In August 2003, a 24-year-old father, Juan Catalan, was arrested for the murder of a 16-year-old girl.
Martha Puebla was gunned down outside her home in Sun Valley, California, allegedly because she had testified in a gang murder case. Juan Catalan’s brother was a co-defendant in that case. Catalan told police he was at a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game at the time of the murder. He showed them the ticket stubs to prove it, but that didn’t dissuade prosecutors. Neither did the fact that Juan didn’t fit the eyewitnesses description of the shooter, or that he offered to take a lie detector test. He was sent to jail to await trial for capital murder.
What saved Catalan from murder charges was the HBO show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. He remembered the television show was being filmed at the game the night of the murder. He also remembered that he walked in front of the cameras.
“Juan remembered that Super Dave Osborne was one of the actors in the show,” recalled defense attorney Todd Melnick during an appearance on “Good Morning America” in June 2004. “Then I contacted the Dodgers, who guided me to the HBO production “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Melnick persuaded the producers to let him look at the episode “Carpool Lane” and in the outtakes, defense attorney Todd Melnick found footage of Catalan and his daughter at the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves baseball game, 20 miles away from the crime scene at the time of the murder. In several shots, Juan Catalan is seen in the stands eating a hot dog or watching the game with his 6-year-old daughter.
That evidence resulted in a $320,000 settlement against the City of Los Angeles.
Larry David joked afterwards, “I’m quitting the show to devote the rest of my life to freeing those unjustly incarcerated. I like to tell people that I’ve now done one good thing in my life, albeit inadvertently.”