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Mr. Ford's Appelate Attorneys felt that another suspect in the case (Victor Belton) looked remarkably like Mr. Ford, and thought it possible that had he appeared in a lineup instead of Mr. Ford that he might have been identified by the eyewitness. Therefore they asked us to carry out a study of the similarity of Ford and Belton in the context of lineup fillers. (See Burr, 2005)

A new set of 80 participants were used to provide ratings of the similarity between the photos of Ford and Belton to each other, and to each of a) the five fillers from the Ford lineup, and b) five additional fillers we selected from the same mug-shot database used in the Ford lineup.

We presented participants with the 21 pairs of faces shown in the Table below, in random order.  Participants were asked to rate the similarity of the two faces in each pair on a scale ranging from 1 to 7 (from “not similar” to “very similar”).

The purpose of the study was to determine the degree to which Ford and Belton are similar in appearance, and whether it is possible that they could be mistaken for each other.  Our results show that of all the 21 face photo pairs in this study, the Ford and Belton pair is rated as the most similar, and significantly more similar than the next most similar pair. Belton is more similar to Ford than any of the fillers used in the Ford lineup, in many cases by a considerable margin.

Mean Similarity Ratings, pairing Ford and Belton
with each other and with each of 10 lineup fillers.

 

 

 

Mean

Rank

Photo Pairs

Rating*

 

 

 

 

1

Ford

Belton

4.60**

2

Belton

Ford lineup filler 3

3.96

3

Ford

Ford lineup filler 3

3.86

4

Belton

Ford lineup filler 6

3.85

5

Ford

New filler 1

3.53

6

Belton

New filler 4

3.49

7

Ford

New filler 4

3.41

8

Ford

Ford lineup filler 2

3.18

9

Ford

Ford lineup filler 6

3.14

10

Belton

Ford lineup filler 2

3.14

11

Belton

Ford lineup filler 1

2.73

12

Belton

New filler 1

2.51

13

Ford

New filler 2

2.42

14

Ford

New filler 5

2.23

15

Ford

Ford lineup filler 1

2.04

16

Belton

New filler 2

1.89

17

Ford

Ford lineup filler 4

1.84

18

Ford

New filler 3

1.80

19

Belton

Ford lineup filler 4

1.70

20

Belton

New filler 5

1.53

21

Belton

New filler 3

1.39

*80 participants rated the similarity of the two
members of each of the 21 pairs of faces.

** Difference between 1st and 2nd rank is
statistically reliable: t(79) = 3.460, p = .001

We'll let our readers determine for themselves the implications of our findings for the identification evidence presented here meeting the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard.

 

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