Offbeat

Billy The Kid: Long Lost Promised Pardon At Last?

Henry McCarty aka Billy The Kid and William Bonney, is the quintessential outlaw and among the most enduring symbols of the brutality and lawlessness that characterized the 19th century American frontier.

Reputed to have killed 21 men (almost one for each year that he lived) his exploits have become part of American pop culture and today he is under consideration for a pardon that had been promised him in exchange for his testimony at a murder trial. (If that isn’t an example of the pot calling the kettle black, one can only wonder what is?)

History tells us that Lincoln County Sheriff, Pat Garrett, shot Billy the Kid in 1881. The young outlaw became a popular, larger-than-life anti-hero largely due to the tabloids of the day that reported his misadventures on a regular basis. Even today, there are many songs, films and books recounting the travails of Billy The Kid.

The current governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, claims he is reviewing a pardon petition based on the widespread belief that New Mexico Territorial Governor, Lew Wallace, had promised once to the 19th century gunman.

In Richardson’s own words:

“As someone who is fascinated with New Mexico’s rich history, I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Billy the Kid and, in particular, the alleged promise of a pardon he was given. I will diligently review this new petition and all the facts available regarding an agreement between Billy the Kid and Governor Wallace before rendering any decision.”

Richardson has received several pardon requests over the years from McCarty’s descendants, but this was the first formal one. Western history buff, Randi McGinn, was on hand for the presentation of this petition and has been officially designated to study documents of that era to determine whether or not there was sufficient basis for a pardon.

Governor Richardson is debating the fact that the petition is narrow in scope and that there was never a blanket pardon option for ALL of the outlaw’s notorious activities.

Time will tell on this one.

Rest in sort of peace, Billy… wherever you may be.

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