In May 2003, 16-year-old Martha Puebla was shot in the head on the doorstep of her Los Angeles home, just days after testifying in a gangland murder trial. Police arrested 24-year-old Juan Catalan at gunpoint, alleging that he’d carried out the hit for his gangster brother Mario. But he always maintained his innocence and was able to prove it using footage from a baseball game.
In a sort of “needle in a haystack” scenario, Catalan said he was in a crowd of 54,000 at a baseball game during the murder and certain misanthropic sitcom accidentally saved his life. At the time of Puebla’s cold-blooded killing, Catalan was at Dodger Stadium with his six-year-old daughter, watching the home team lose to Georgia’s Atlanta Braves. Frustratingly, though, Catalan’s lawyer couldn’t find clear enough TV footage to prove it. Catalan faced death row if found guilty at trial and the prosecuting attorney was unbeaten in murder cases and nicknamed “Sniper” because she liked to pick off defendants with the death penalty.
Luckily for Catalan, it just so happened that a series four episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm titled The Car Pool Lane was being shot at the ballpark that night. The show saw Larry pick up a prostitute to help him beat the traffic before going to the very same baseball game as the wrongly accused Catalan.
That little stroke of luck saved Catalan’s life. His alibi was confirmed and he no longer fears being killed by the state for a crime he didn’t commit.
Catalan’s lawyer combed through HBO’s footage – and eventually found the magical moment where Catalan and David walked right past each other on the stadium stairs, even brushing shoulders. Still more uncannily, the Seinfeld co-creator promptly turned and raised his arms in triumph. It’s as if he knew this was the frame that would get Catalan’s case dismissed.
It was a jaw-dropping coincidence. A one in a million chance. A long shot, like this documentary’s title. As LA Dodgers’ senior vice president Sam Fernandez chuckles in amazement: “All of life is ‘what if?’” –Orrazz
Catalan was freed, emotionally reunited with his daughter and received a $320,000 settlement for his unjust five-month spell in maximum security prison. The sloppy LAPD detectives who wrongly arrested Catalan were removed from homicide duties. Gang members later got life sentences for the execution-style killing of the young girl.
The NetFlix documentary titled Long Shot retells the harrowing tale of an unlikely chance, and how one man’s life was given back to him.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.