21 deaths later, Billy the kid to get pardon
Billy the Kid, the Wild West outlaw who is reputed to have killed 21 men and whose exploits have been widely chronicled in US popular culture, is under consideration for a pardon.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said yesterday he was reviewing a pardon petition based on the widespread belief that New Mexico territorial Governor Lew Wallace promised the 19th Century gunman a pardon in exchange for his testimony in a murder trial.
"As someone who is fascinated with New Mexico's rich history, I've always been intrigued by the story of Billy the Kid and, in particular, the alleged promise of a pardon he was given," Richardson said in a statement.
"I will diligently review this new petition and all the facts available regarding an agreement between Billy the Kid and Governor Wallace before rendering any decision," he said.
The two-term Democratic governor, who leaves office at the end of the month, asked historians and others to weigh in with their opinions on a website dedicated to the issue.
Sheriff Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid to death at point-blank range in 1881.
Newspapers had already turned the young outlaw, whose real name was Henry McCarty, into a larger-than-life figure by the time of his death in his early 20s.
A book by Garrett transformed McCarty into a legendary figure of America's western frontier. He has since become the subject of many songs, films and books.