Photo Shop Politics: William The Youth

Must not be too much to do in New Mexico...

Outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is mulling whether to grant a pardon to Billy the Kid, the outlaw convicted of murdering a sheriff in 1878. The potential pardon has ignited a debate on this chapter of frontier history, with supporters saying state authorities reneged on a deal struck with Billy the Kid -- also known as William H. Bonney -- and opponents arguing that a pardon would sully the memories of the lawmen who tracked him down.

An unofficial poll set up by the governor's office found public support for the pardon, according to the Associated Press, with 430 respondents in favor and 379 opposed.

Pardons are a traditional goodwill gesture from departing governors but few involve convicts who died more than a century ago. Richardson, a Western history buff, first started considering a pardon for Bonney after receiving a petition from Albuquerque attorney Randi McGinn this month, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Billy the Kid was convicted of killing Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady in 1878 but the territorial governor of New Mexico, Lew Wallace, offered him a pardon if he testified in a separate murder case. The Kid agreed but was never pardoned. He escaped from prison in 1881 and killed two deputies before he was tracked down and killed on July 14, 1881.

McGinn told the Times her petition was "only to enforce one promise the governor made."

Wallace's great grandson, however, opposes the pardon. William N. Wallace said a pardon would portray the former governor as a "dishonorable liar."

Richardson has until Friday night to make up his mind. His successor, Susana Martinez, says she has better things to do with her time than argue about frontier-era outlaws.


daniel noe said...

I once did a report on Billy for school. From the book I read, there was a dispute in Lincoln county over which was the legitimate government, and Billy was merely a hired deputy of one faction. All the others involved in the shootings that commenced were pardoned, and the only reason Billy could not be was because he had chased/been chased onto an Indian reservation where his shooting occured, which was under federal jurisdiction. This raises the question as to why the current governor thinks he has the power to pardon today. Has the reservation (or washington) given up its jurisdiction?

Sunny B. said...

I just saw True Grit. I looks like Billy got what he deserved. Besides, there must be more pressing things for government to do than worry about the record of a long dead cold blooded killer.

Are you on semester break now?

daniel noe said...

This report was years ago. I'm not in school now.