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Billy the Kid Pardon: Why Should We Care?

Photo believed to be William Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, circa 1880. (AP Photo, file)

Billy the Kid Pardon: Why Should We Care?
Photo believed to be William Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, circa 1880. (AP Photo, file)

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CBS/AP) The countdown clock on a potential pardon for Billy the Kid - less famously known as William H. Bonny - continues to tick as New Mexico governor Bill Richardson weighs the pros and cons of pardoning the colorful old West character - or cold-blooded cop-killer, depending on who you ask.

The issue has sparked international interest since the governor's office set up a website and e-mail address asking for the public's opinion on the issue, but some - like incoming Gov. Susana Martinez - can't help but wonder: why now? Why do we care? And aren't there more important issues?

Martinez has said she won't be wasting any of her time on a pardon. The Republican said Tuesday that state issues, such as a balanced budget and a controversial move of the state's DNA laboratory, were more pressing.

"There's an awful lot of work to be taken care of for us to be wasting so much time on such a consideration. It's just a waste," she said.

But there are some parties who feel deeply invested in the outcome: Those who oppose it.

J.P. Garrett, the grandson of Sheriff Pat Garrett who is credited with killing Billy the Kid after he escaped from jail and killed two deputies in the process, says a pardon for a "multiple cop killer" is not only unwarranted but it also has the potential of casting a pall over his grandfather's heroic legacy. If Billy the Kid is no longer a killer, then Sheriff Garrett shot an innocent man in cold blood.

And if Gov. Richardson decides that then Gov. Lew Wallace reneged on a promised pardon - the Kid testified in another case after Wallace allegedly promised him a pardon - Wallace's great-grandson William Wallace argued, it would, in effect, "declare Lew Wallace to have been a dishonorable liar."

Richardson said The Kid is part of New Mexico history and that he has been interested in the case for years.

"Just think of all the good publicity New Mexico is receiving around the world on this," the governor said. "It's fun."

That's one way of looking at it.

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
December 27, 2010 - Billy the Kid to be Pardoned 130 Years Later?

  • Carlin Miller

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