Netflix True Crime Shocker Explores Justice System Flaws With Comedy Legend

By Brian Myers | Published

Larry David has been credited with many things over his storied career, but inadvertently freeing an innocent man who might otherwise have faced the death penalty is one that might raise some eyebrows. But as the 2017 documentary Long Shot explains, the legendary comedian’s taping of an episode of his hit show Curb Your Enthusiasm at a Los Angeles Dodgers game did just that.

Footage from the episode provided most of the evidence needed to free 24-year-old Juan Catalan from jail, where he was facing 1st-degree murder charges and the possibility of capital punishment for the murder of 16-year-old Martha Puebla.

The Murder Seemed Like An Open-And-Shut Case

Long Shot takes a deep dive into the case, which begins with police investigating the death of Puebla, a teenage girl who testified against Catalan’s brother Mario in a gang murder case. Investigators knew that Catalan was in the courtroom that day, and concocted a theory that he killed Puebla for revenge. When an eyewitness to the teen’s murder came forward and identified Catalan as the gunman, police were sent to arrest the young man.

How Curb Your Enthusiasm Could Prove His Innocence

The documentary shows the case against Catalan and goes into detail about an alibi that would be seemingly easy for the defense to prove. Catalan stated that he was at a Dodgers game that night with his small daughter and could recall the game’s moments. But, as Long Shot continues, the justice system was going to need more proof than that.

Long Shot digs into the legal case that Catalan’s attorney builds, beginning with the defender asking Catalan if he remembered anything out of the ordinary at the stadium that night. When Catalan recalled seeing camera crews filming a show in the stands near him, the attorney used that information to show that Curb Your Enthusiasm was filming an episode there that evening.

On Camera At The Time Of The Killing

Catalan’s attorney poured over raw footage from the episode before finding shots of Catalan and his daughter in the stands. In Long Shot, audiences see that the prosecuting attorney’s office noted that the timestamp of 9:10 pm meant that Catalan had plenty of time to leave the stadium and commit the murder at 10:32. It took Catalan’s cell phone records to help clear him, as the call he received from his girlfriend at 10:12 that night had pinged a tower by the stadium and far away from the murder scene.

Catalan Goes Free

The charges against Catalan were dropped and he later received a settlement from a civil lawsuit against the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles for false imprisonment, defamation, and other grievances. Long Shot points out that the $320,000 was a small amount to give to a man who spent a horrifying five months behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

Catalan went to college after his release and earned his associate degree, with plans on continuing to a four-year degree. He also got to meet Larry David, the comedic great whose show’s taping led to his freedom.

Watch It All Unfold In The Netflix Documentary

Long Shot is currently streaming on Netflix. The Curb Your Enthusiasm episode it features is titled “The Carpool Lane” and is the sixth episode of season four.