Season 3 Episode 8: Smoked

Types of Murder

When Foster says “so this wasn’t a robbery, this was a premeditated murder,” Lightman replies “an execution.” There are important distinctions among murders that focus on the motivation of the killer. Was it an instrumental murder, performed because it became necessary to obtain a goal, or was the goal to eliminate someone, as in an execution or assassination? In the instrumental killing the murderer is prepared, armed, but it was not the goal, killing occurs only if necessary to achieve the goal – getting the money in a robbery, for example. This is not the case with premeditated murders; the only goal is to take a life. Another type of unplanned murder occurs when in the midst of an argument, fury is unleashed and the murder is the result of a loss of impulse control. The legal system takes account of the motives of the killer, meting out the most severe punishment for premeditated murders.


In just a moment’s comment Loker tells the viewers that Lightman got a baseline – Rudy was telling the truth when he says it was bourbon. The concept of a baseline is one which I have emphasized if the lie-catcher is to avoid misinterpreting idiosyncratic behavior. For example, some people always talk slowly, hesitantly; that is their baseline. If you don’t know the person’s baseline you could misinterpret hesitant speech as a sign of lying. If you know the baseline is slow speech, then speaking quickly might be a clue that what is being said was rehearsed ahead of time. It is always a change from baseline that is relevant. Interpreting behavior without knowing what is that person’s baseline is hazardous.

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Season 3