Some people say that TV has a bad influence on especially younger people.Juan Catalan will wholeheartedly disagree with that.
Juan Catalan was 24 when he was wrongly charged with gunning down 16-year-old Martha Puebla on her doorstep outside her home in Los Angeles.Martha had earlier testified in a gang-related murder case ,involving Catalan’s gangster, and police were convinced that Juan was the killer.
In the days after the murder in May 2003, he was arrested by cops who pointed a gun to his head after pulling him over in his SUV.
He had apparent motive in the girl’s killing, he frequented the neighborhood where the crime took place, and a composite artist’s sketch drawn from eyewitness testimony appeared to put him at the scene as the man who pulled the trigger.
From the outset, Catalan maintained that he had an alibi: on the night of the murder, May 12, 2003, he took his six-year-old daughter to the Dodger Stadium to watch a game against the Atlanta Braves.
But despite providing his ticket stubs, police weren’t convinced of his innocence and proceeded with prosecuting him, which if he had been convicted, could have seen him face the death penalty.
While awaiting trial in jail, Catalan recalled that there was a film crew shooting something during the Dodgers-Braves game on the fateful night of Puebla’s murder.
‘I wasn’t supposed to be at that game, and that would replay in my head over and over,’ Catalan says in the trailer for a new Netflix documentary about this case.
And his defense attorney Todd Melnick discovered that cameras had been at the baseball ground to film an episode of the comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm called ‘The Carpool Lane.
Convinced that Catalan didn’t fit the profile of a murderer, his defense attorney Todd Melnik pulled out all the stops to free his client and vindicate his claims of innocence. He convinced Dodger management to allow him to comb through hours of “Dodger Vision” camera footage, images of the crowd that had been shot during the game. He spent an entire day watching dozens of videotapes in slow motion, and though he was able to spot Catalan and his daughter in their seats, the image resolution wasn’t clear enough to conclusively identify them.
When pressed for other possible ways to confirm his story, Catalan remembered that there had been a crew shooting some kind of video in the stands, with a man (who Catalan didn’t recognize) walking up and down the aisle. That man turned out to be Larry David.
As it happened David was there to shoot an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “The Car Pool Lane,” the one where Larry hires a hooker so he can use a freeway car pool lane to beat the traffic and get to the Dodger game on time.
Todd’s legal team then were allowed to scour hours of footage taken that night to try and find pictures to prove that Juan was part of the 56,000 crowd.
And eventually they found proof of Juan walking his young daughter to their seats inside the stadium.
The evidence was enough for the case against Juan to be dismissed and after five and a half months in jail he was released and later received $3285,000 in compensation from the LAPD.
A year later, gang member Raul Robledo received a life term for Martha’s murder.
In September 2017 Netflix released a documentary called “Long Shot” on the Juan Catalan case.
Prior to his arrest, Juan Catalan never watched Curb Your Enthusiasm, but after his release from jail, he said became an avid fan of the series.
As for David, he quipped at the time that he was quitting his show ‘to devote the rest of my life to freeing those unjustly incarcerated.