A Little Late: New Mexico Governor May Pardon Billy the Kid

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William "Billy the Kid" Bonney

© Bettmann/CORBIS

He allegedly killed nine people and evaded authorities. But New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is still considering a pardon — nearly 130 years after the saga began.

Why? A debate still rages about whether he was actually gunned down by Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881. Some historians say that Garrett didn’t actually kill Billy the Kid — he just shot him, leaving the Kid to flee to Texas, where he would die in 1950.

Billy the Kid has become a folk hero of the Old West, with movies and songs created around his persona. He was shot down by Garrett after escaping from prison in a legendary shootout.

In 2003, Richardson supported a plan to reinvestigate the case, and the Associated Press reports he is mulling over a pardon. Garrett’s descendants clearly aren’t having this talk, and said in a statement that a pardon would be a “defamation” of their grandfather.