Photo lineup with white border for subject was not overly suggestive


Catherine Wigley was working as a clerk in Grice’s Package Store in Belzoni in 1996, when two black males entered the store and attempted to rob the store at gunpoint. One of them accidentally set off an alarm while attempting to force open the cash register, and the two men fled the store. Wigley claimed that she recognized one of the robbers, though she did not know his name, because he had been a customer in the store in the past.

Based on her description, investigating officers concluded that Joseph Lee Anderson, who had recently been taken into custody on an unrelated matter, might be that person. They assembled a photographic lineup of six individuals including Anderson and asked Wigley to view the lineup. She identified Anderson from the lineup. Wigley also made an in-court identification of Anderson as one of the robbers during the course of the trial.

He was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to ten years. On appeal, he argued the photo lineup was overly suggestive. MCOA affirmed.


If a crime victim identifies a particular suspect in a photographic lineup so constructed that, for any reason, the suspect is singled out or is unreasonably conspicuous, then the identification is deemed tainted and inadmissible.  See MSC Arteigapiloto v. State, 496 So. 2d 681 (Miss. 1986).

In this case, Anderson points out that the remaining five photographs in the lineup appear to be photographs that were developed and printed commercially whereas it is obvious that Anderson’s photograph is a self-developing one taken with a Polaroid camera. The commercially developed photographs had no border whereas the Polaroid picture had a white border. His argument is that anyone viewing this lineup would immediately note the difference in the photographic process and that this, standing alone, made it unduly suggestive that Anderson was the principal suspect.

This court has reviewed the photographs used in the lineup. The physical characteristics of the persons themselves are sufficiently similar to avoid suggestiveness. The backgrounds of the various photographs indicate quite clearly that they all involve persons in the custody of law enforcement. The only noticeable difference is the different photographic technique used to capture Anderson’s likeness. We conclude that the existence of a white border on Anderson’s photograph does not, of itself, make that photograph so distinctive as to improperly single it out.

The other photographs have minor distinctions in shape and size and show different backgrounds. In some of them, the individuals are holding up identification placards and in some they are not. All of these considerations tend to indicate that all of the photographs were taken at different times and possibly with different cameras. Thus, the minor differences in the appearance of Anderson’s photograph are not so distinctive as to improperly single him out. There is, in our opinion, no possibility of a very substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification. See York v. State, 413 So. 2d 1372 (Miss. 1982). We find this issue to be without merit.