Juan Catalan was facing the death penalty for the murder of a teenage girl but was saved thanks to footage from Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Catalan had been accused of shooting 16-year-old Martha Puebla to death as she stood on the doorstep of her home in Los Angeles in 2003. He always contested his innocence. However, it was only when the sitcom footage emerged that he was exonerated. His fascinating story was captured in the 2017 Netflix documentary “Long Shot.”
- Catalan spent six months in prison. Police believed he was carrying out a hit on Puebla ordered by her ex-boyfriend, Jose Ledesma, and her brother, Mario. Had he gone on trial and been convicted, he could have faced the death penalty.
- As he awaited trial, Catalan desperately tried to find a way to prove his innocence. He claimed all along that he couldn’t have killed Puebla because he was at a Dodgers baseball game with his 6-year-old daughter when the murder occurred. This alone should have been enough to get him off, but his legal team couldn’t find hard evidence to prove his whereabouts.
Thankfully, there was a break in the case.
- Larry David came to the rescue. Juan Catalan was ultimately cleared after footage from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” showed that he was exactly where he claimed to be. The Season 4 episode “The Car Pool Lane” was filmed at Dodger Stadium on that same night, and unaired footage showed Catalan in the crowd.
- The DA decided to drop the murder charges. It was clear that he was innocent. And while having his name cleared was a huge relief, he was also given a settlement of $320,000 for being wrongfully accused.
- Netflix’s “Long Game” took five years to make. That’s because filmmaker Jacob LaMendola had to work with Catalan to gain his trust and secure his involvement. Then they had to get Larry David to agree to appear. “The very first thing he said when he got on the phone was, ‘There’s no way that I would ever be a part of this,'” LaMendoza told IndieWire. “I think I just went into shock… We had gone so far, we had every piece, and I just didn’t want it to end.” Eventually, when David realized LaMendoza just wanted to interview him, he got on board.