What do a serial cheater who was found guilty of killing his wife in a seedy motel room, a 20-something daughter accused of murdering her parents, and the rapper who was convicted of killing a fan in a crowded nightclub have in common?
All are stories that feature on the second season of Investigation Discovery’s Reasonable Doubt and, according to new cohost Fatima Silva, each case involved an unforgettable roller coaster of emotions.
Silva, who joined forces with retired Birmingham homicide detective Chris Anderson to investigate the cases, is a practicing criminal defense, immigration, and personal injury attorney in California’s Bay Area.
In the series, Silva and Anderson investigate cases in which someone has already been convicted of murder, and then help their families decide if they could have grounds for an appeal, or if they should accept the guilty verdict once and for all.
Silva told CrimeFeed that her love of legal work started at a very young age.
“I always wanted to do law since I was little, and it was also something that something the adults in my life kind of always put on me. In my family, I’m the first to go to college [and] the first to go to grad school, so I think for my parents that it was also just that old, traditional type of job that comes with this idea of success,” she says. “So I think I did it a lot for them, as well. But I love what I do.”
Silva said that when she was a child, she found herself speaking up to advocate for people who could not speak up for themselves. But after attending law school in New York, she moved back to California and began a career that involved representing clients on both the plaintiff and defense side. “I always was a people’s lawyer, but I started to work with another attorney who asked me to make a few appearances for him,” she says.
“At first I said I couldn’t do it, because I said, ‘I like to sleep at night’,” she says. “It’s just this preconceived notion some people have: ‘How can you represent criminals?’ And so many people have it, so I laugh when they ask me that.”
“But he always pointed out: ‘There’s two sides in this, and you have to balance those scales of justice — if not you, who’s going to do it’?” she says.
Silva says that the more cases she handled, the more she realized that many of her clients were just ordinary people who got caught up in bad situations.
“Everybody thinks automatically of murder,” Silva told CrimeFeed. “But we’re also talking addiction issues or maybe a bad drunken night where someone makes a big mistakes or conflicts in family. Bad things can happen to good people, and people make mistakes, so I think it’s important to advocate on behalf of those people so that they learn from it, but that their life is not necessarily changed for the worse because of it.”
Silva was in Mexico for her bachelorette party with friends when she got the call to ask her if she would be interested in cohosting the show. She later met with Anderson in Los Angeles — and said that she bonded with her new partner, who spent 17 years with the City of Birmingham Police Department and investigated over 300 homicide cases, instantly. “He is the best. We are family at this point. We have a lot in common: He’s Alabama and I’m San Francisco, so there are things that are different, but we are both minorities, we both grew up in hard-working families, we both grew up in church, and church is a big part of our lives.”
Another thing that they share, she revealed, is the huge sense of responsibility they both feel for the families who appear in the series. “It’s not something to be taken lightly,” she says. “It’s not for show.”
All of the cases were memorable in their own way, but Silva said that she was especially haunted by the circumstances of the case in an episode titled “The Dayton Eight,” which involved several kids who were involved in an incident where a house burned down and an eight-year-old girl died.
“That episode was extremely hard for me,” she says. “Because I have a heart for young people. Our youth are our future, and I do a lot of juvenile work. When someone under 18 commits a crime, rather than just saying, ‘Put that monster away,’ my first reaction is always, ‘What happened to them? Why are they even out at this hour? Where are their parents’?”
“I cried a lot in that one,” Silva admits. “I hate when I cry, but that one was a tearjerker. That episode is absolutely tragic.”
In addition to her faith and her bond with Anderson, Silva said she credits family, friends, and “an amazing husband who knows the real me … who said, ‘This is right up your alley. This is something that you’re meant to do’,” when she hits tough times on a case.
“I am one hundred percent proud of the work on this show and proud to be part of it,” Silva says.
Her advice to anyone out there who finds themselves in the middle of a police investigation is simple: Get a lawyer.
“I respect law enforcement; I know that they are out to get truth, and I know that that’s the goal,” she says. “But I tell everyone that I come across: ‘If the police ever walk up to you for anything — whether you were part of it, whether you saw it, or anything — if the police ever walk up to you, it’s always a good idea to say, ‘I respectfully decline to answer any questions at this time, until I have an attorney present’,” she says.
“And the reason is that you never know what words are going to come out of your mouth that are going to be twisted. We’re all hoping that the state and law enforcement go for truth. But what happens is sometimes they get tunnel vision, and sometimes they mean to search for truth and suddenly they’re making the square fit into the hole, and they’ll do what they have to do in order to make it appear to the public that they got justice.
You just never know what you’re going to say that can come back and hurt you. That is your constitutional right, and you need to protect yourself and your family — and you need to protect the investigation.”
Silva wants parents to have frank conversations with their children about the importance of getting legal counsel in the same way that they tell them not to talk to strangers.
In the premiere episode, Silva and Anderson look into the case of K.C., Grondin, who was just 19 when he was charged with his girlfriend’s murder in 2011. The team questions whether KC’s family is right to believe that his conviction was a “grave injustice, or if the prosecution got it right and KC was an angry teenager driven to kill for lust and money.”
Reasonable Doubt’s second season will also see a pest control worker who was convicted of brutally murdering a 71-year-old socialite and a husband who was convicted of killing his wife in the bathtub.
Watch “The Code” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Reasonable Doubt on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Fatima Silva [Investigation Discovery]