With news breaking that a federal judge has overturned the conviction of Brendan Dassey, the younger of the subjects from Making a Murderer, I think this is as good a time as any to remind everyone that the Netflix true crime documentary series is not the only television show to help set an unjustly accused murderer free. It was also done by, of all shows, Curb Your Enthusiasm, in 2004.
In the season four episode “Carpool Lane,” Larry David attends a Dodgers game with a prostitute he invited for the sole purpose of using the car pool lane to get there on time. The show shot some of the footage at an actual Dodgers game that was played on May 12, 2003. In a shot that didn’t make the episode, a man named Juan Catalan could be seen sitting with his daughter, eating a hot dog. This was excellent news for Juan, because if he was eating a Dodger Dog at the time the footage indicated, he could not have been committing a murder somewhere else, as police alleged.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Catalan’s defense attorney, Todd Melnik, went through footage of crowd shots from the televised game between the Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves, but he did not find his client. Then he learned that the HBO comedy starring former “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David had been shooting at the ballpark that day.
HBO allowed Melnik to look through the footage, and he found a shot of Catalan with his 6-year-old daughter and two friends. The footage was time coded, confirming that Catalan was at the ballpark shortly before the time of the slaying 20 miles away in the San Fernando Valley.
So there you have it. The two most recent shows that have freed an accused murderer from prison are 1) a deep dive true crime series that scoured through mountains of evidence to uncover sloppy police work and the flaws of the criminal justice system, with the goal of raising awareness about a significant potential injustice, and 2) one that was doing an episode about taking a prostitute to a baseball game and happened to catch a guy eating a hot dog.
Weird world we got here.