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Detective Chris Anderson reveals what he’s learned from ‘Reasonable Doubt’

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When a family member is convicted of murder, the consequences can be devastating for all involved and the appeals process can leave the accused and their family in indefinite legal limbo. On Investigation Discovery’s “Reasonable Doubt,” retired homicide detective Chris Anderson and trial attorney Fatima Silva reexamine contentious trials and try to help families decide whether to pursue an appeal or accept the guilty verdict. The show’s fourth season airs new episodes each Monday at 10:00 p.m.

Anderson spent 21 years with the City of Birmingham police department. Today, he’s a cold case investigator with the District Attorney’s office and the head of Birmingham’s Conviction Integrity Unit.

During the following interview, Anderson explains how he and Silva apply different sciences to achieve a balanced investigation. He explains how families have difficulty coming to terms with their loved one’s guilty verdict, and he admits that it’s easy for him to become consumed with an investigation.

The Maine Edge: You and Fatima often examine controversial murder trials from different angles. How would you describe her contribution to “Reasonable Doubt?”

Anderson: Fatima brings a lot to the show. She and I come from different backgrounds and we each bring different sciences to the table in order to create a balanced investigation. There are times that you will see throughout this season where she has to keep me in check and keep me balanced about being an independent investigator. There are times where I have to keep her in check because she’s a defense attorney and I’m a cop.

The Maine Edge: Even though you are retired from your job as homicide detective, you are still using those skills on the show. What is one big thing you’ve learned from doing this show that you didn’t know before?

Anderson: I worked a lot of homicide cases for the city of Birmingham, and we were held to a very high standard during those investigations. I’ve found through working on “Reasonable Doubt” that not everybody is held to those same standards. That could be due to a lack of experience in investigating cases or a lack of prosecuting cases through our criminal justice system. I don’t know if we can even begin to change that, it’s a change of mindset that we have to have to get beyond the way things are happening in our society.

The Maine Edge: Sometimes convictions do get overturned when new evidence comes to light and sometimes they don’t. When you have to tell a family that an appeal will likely result in the same verdict, how devastating is that news for them?

Anderson: Sometimes, it is devastating for them and we give them time to process that information. What most people don’t see on the show is that most of the time, the family members come to the realization that this person they still love may be responsible for another person’s demise. They might be right where they belong. Sometimes family members come back, weeks, months or even years after the show airs, and they tell us we were right and that they’ve given up the fight, but still love their family members where they are.

There are maybe two or three cases per season that we think might be a wrongful conviction or we think might require more investigation. For us, we want to be completely honest with the family. If this person is where they need to be, we owe it to the families to be clear about that. Sometimes, people are very good at manipulating family members into believing they are innocent.

The Maine Edge: Have you ever become so involved in trying to solve a case that it kind of consumed your life?

Anderson: Absolutely, I’ve become consumed by a lot of the cases I’ve investigated. It may just be something small, but I become so consumed with it that I forget that I’m a family man with kids and a wife at home. Luckily, I married a woman that understands the kind of man that I am and children who understand the type of father they have.

(On the next episode of “Reasonable Doubt,” scheduled to air Monday, August 23, at 10:00 p.m., a jury convicted 15-year-old Evaristo Salas for an apparent gang-related hit that leaves one man dead. Evaristo’s sisters claim they can prove the boy’s innocence and hope to convince Anderson and Silva to join their fight.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 August 2021 07:32

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