From the most minor statement to the police to the tiniest piece of forensic evidence, it’s amazing what can make or break a case. In fact, one lucky man actually fought a murder charge thanks to an episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Mira Mesa defense attorney Peter Liss has the story.
In 2003, Juan Catalan was arrested for the murder of a 16 year old girl. While he insisted he was innocent and couldn’t have killed her because he was at a Dodgers game with his daughter at the time of the murder, police and prosecutors didn’t believe his alibi. The victim had previously testified against Catalan’s brother, which gave him motive, and one eye witness claimed that he was the one who shot the girl.
Catalan still had his ticket stub, but anyone could buy a ticket to a baseball game to use the stub as an alibi while committing a crime. And while four teenage witnesses to the crime said the killer looked nothing like Catalan, prosecutors believed his motive was too strong to ignore. So Catalan spent five months behind bars trying to fight the charges with the help of an attorney as dedicated as Carmel Valley criminal lawyer Peter Liss.
The murder charge carried a possible death penalty sentence, so his attorney was willing to look into long shots just to prove his client’s innocence. He reviewed Fox tapes of the game, but while he could make out Catalan, the footage wasn’t clear enough to exonerate him. That’s when Catalan remembered that Curb Your Enthusiasm was filming at the game that night. Amazingly, outtake footage from the episode captured Catalan and his daughter eating a hot dog. With the time coded footage and Catalan’s cell phone records, the lawyer was able to prove that there was no way his client was anywhere near where the girl was killed that night.
Catalan later filed suit against the city and the LAPD, claiming he was subject to false imprisonment, misconduct and defamation of character. He ended up winning $320,000 in part because his attorney successfully argued that the police didn’t do their job in looking into his alibi.
Now most cases aren’t won thanks to television footage that confirms an alibi, but many of them do end up relying on small, seemingly unimportant details like the fact that a TV show happened to be shooting at the game that night. That is why when you are being investigated for a crime or if you have been arrested, you should immediately contact a La Jolla defense attorney and then write down every detail you can remember from your alibi or from the arrest -or both.
If you have been accused of any crime, do not do anything without first speaking to a top Solana Beach criminal lawyer. Call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 at any time to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Sean Benham