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HBO Helps to Curb Murder Charge

6/02/2004 6:43 AM Eastern

A man wrongly charged with murder was acquitted with the help of Home Box Office’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, AP reported.

Juan Catalan was arrested last August on charges that he killed Martha Puebla, 16, in the San Fernando Valley May 12, but Catalan insisted that he and his daughter were at the Atlanta Braves-Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball game at Dodgers Stadium, 20 miles north of the crime scene, minutes before the murder occurred, AP reported.

Defense attorney Todd Melnik initially subpoenaed the Dodgers and Fox Sports Net West to scan videotape of the televised game and footage from its "Dodger Vision" cameras, according to AP. Some of the videotapes showed where Catalan was sitting, but Melnik couldn't make him out.

The lawyer then learned that HBO had been taping an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm at the stadium that night, and he told AP, "I got to one of the scenes, and there is my client sitting in a corner of the frame, eating a hot dog with his daughter."

Time codes on the tape, along with cellular-phone records, placed Catalan at the ballpark about 20 minutes before the murder, making it impossible for him to get out of the parking lot, change vehicles and clothing and kill Puebla during that span.

Catalan could have faced the death penalty had he been convicted of murder, but he was released in January because a judge ruled that there was no evidence to try him, AP said.

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