The hours are ticking down to a deadline Friday for a US state governor to give a posthumous pardon to Billy Kid, the infamous 19th century Wild West outlaw.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson reaffirmed Wednesday that he plans to make a decision before he leaves office at the end of the year — in a day.
“I believe that requests of this nature must be fully vetted and investigated by the appropriate agencies to ensure that I do the right thing for those who request clemency as well as the citizens of New Mexico,” he said.
The legend of Billy the Kid — real name William H. Bonney, although also known as Henry McCarty and Henry Antrim — has inspired dozens of books and films, several impostors and attempts to exhume his grave to test for DNA.
Some say then New Mexico governor Lew Wallace, who wrote the novel “Ben Hur” from the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, promised to pardon Bonney, shot down by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881.
But Garrett’s grandchildren oppose granting a pardon, saying it would amount to painting Garrett as a cold-blooded killer, “accusing our grandfather, in national and international media, of hideous crimes.”
“We consider that an abomination as well as an inexcusable defamation of a great man,” said Jarvis Patrick and Susan Floyd Garrett.
Various fans of the Billy the Kid legend have pushed for the pardon for more than a decade, including Elbert A. Garcia of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, who believes he is the great-grandson of the famed gunman.
Garcia wrote a book in 1999 explaining how his grandfather, Patrociano Garcia, was Bonney’s son — even though there is no proof the bandit had any descendants.
Richardson, a former US energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations — who traveled to North Korea this month on his latest diplomatic mission — is stepping down after two terms as governor of the southwestern US state.