Juan Catalan always loved baseball.
The best memories from his childhood involved cramming into the cheap seats to see the best of the game battle it out. It’s a tradition he carried into his adult years.
On May 12, 2003, then 24-year-old Juan watched his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers lose to the Atlanta Braves 11-4, with his six-year-old daughter, Melissa.
It was a game that would end up saving his life.
Three months later, Juan was charged with the murder of 16-year-old Martha Puebla. Puebla had recently testified at a preliminary hearing about a gang murder in which Juan’s brother Mario had been charged as an accessory.
The police believed Juan – who had been in the courtroom at the time – had killed Puebla in retaliation. Adding credence to their case, an eyewitness said they had seen Juan pull the trigger in the execution-style murder.
Juan, of course, had an alibi. He was at the stadium with Melissa watching the Dodgers play the Braves at the time. But the police didn’t believe him.
The prosecutor – who had never lost a case – was pushing for the death penalty, and it looked like Juan might die for a crime he didn’t commit.
“Since the day I was arrested, I just felt like I was being framed,” Juan told 60 Minutes Liam Bartlett in September this year.
“Like, why? Why is my life going to end here?”
According to the New York Post, Juan then got in touch with local “kick-ass” attorney Todd Melnik, who agreed to be his defense lawyer.
After taking on the case, Melnik went to Dodger Stadium and began poring over the internal camera footage in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Juan. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any evidence of Juan being at the stadium that day.
Then Juan remembered he had seen a camera crew filming at the stadium on the night in question. The Dodgers fan remembered them because he had been stopped by a production assistant so as not to interrupt filming.