Possible pardon in the works for Billy the Kid

Bryan Alaspa's picture

The out-going governor of New Mexico is expected to soon decide if the notorious bandit Billy the Kid should be pardoned over the killing of a sheriff.

Governor Bill Richardson told the press that he has received hundreds of emails and letters from people who believe that a deal offered to the outlaw from then Governor Lew Wallace should be honored and he should be pardoned in the murder of a sheriff. Richardson is a famous Billy the Kidd buff and is in the midst of trying to render a decision on whether or not to pardon him. A decision is expected soon.

Billy the Kid was actually born with the name Henry McCarty and also used the name William H. Bonney. He was shot and killed by sheriff Pat Garrett when he was only 21. Before that time Billy the Kid had become a notorious outlaw and was often blamed for crimes far and wide that he could not possibly have committed.

Richardson may only really be deciding whether or not to observe a possible partial pardon that was reportedly issued by New Mexico governor Lew Wallace when the Kid was still alive. According to that decree, Bonney would have been cleared of the shooting of a Lincoln County sheriff named William Brady along with some other of his crimes. The condition was that Billy the Kid was to testify before a grand jury that had convened to investigate another murder. Bonney did testify but the pardon never came through.

There are those who oppose the idea of the pardon. For example, the family of Pat Garrett. They say that Bonney fled house arrest and, thus, the pardon was rendered moot. Bonney, meanwhile, wrote letters to Governor Wallace asking that the deal be honored.

To make matters more interesting, Bonney was eventually convicted in the death of Brady. He was even sentenced to death and arrested. He then escaped, killing two deputies in the process.

The argument further states that Governor Wallace never put the promise of a pardon into writing. However, those in favor of the pardon say that a promise need not be put into writing in order to be honored. Just to complicate matters, the charges that Billy the Kid were eventually convicted of were federal and not state charges.

Governor Richardson is on his way out of the office. So, while the debate rages, he is ultimately the one who will get to decide. Word from his office is that he will make a decision soon.

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