Friday, December 31, 2010

No Last Minute Pardon For Cop Killer “Billy The Kid”

Santa Fe - Gov. Bill Richardson declined to pardon legendary outlaw Billy The Kid.

Though he may have been promised a pardon in return for testimony for killings he witnessed during the Lincoln County wars, the Governor and his staff said the official record does not show General Lew Wallace, territorial governor during the protracted wars between private armies, made any such promise.

The proposed pardon covered the 1878 killing of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady. Billy the Kid was shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881, a few months after escaping from jail where he was awaiting hanging in Brady's death.

He killed two deputies while escaping. The pardon petition did not cover those deaths, but Richardson said he had to consider them in his decision.

Garrett's grandson, J.P. Garrett of Albuquerque, sent an e-mail to The Associated Press: "Yea!!! No pardon! Looks like it will be a great new year!!!!"

According to legend, Billy the Kid killed 21 people, one for each year of his life. The New Mexico Tourism Department puts the total closer to nine.

Richardson, the former U.N. ambassador and Democratic presidential candidate, waited until the last minute to announce his decision. His term ends at midnight Friday.

The historical record on the pardon is unclear, and Richardson staff members told him in August there are no written documents "pertaining in any way" to a pardon in the papers of the territorial governor, Lew Wallace, who served in office from 1878 to 1881.

Wallace's great-grandson, William Wallace of Westport, Conn., said Richardson "followed the correct, rational track in forgoing a pardon for a convicted murderer."

Richardson said he decided against a pardon "because of a lack of conclusiveness and the historical ambiguity as to why Gov. Wallace reneged on his promise."

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