More people say they favour a pardon for Billy the Kid than oppose the idea after Governor Bill Richardson’s office set up a website and email address to take comments on a possible posthumous pardon for one of New Mexico’s most famous Old West outlaws.
Mr Richardson’s office received 809 emails and letters in the survey that ended on Sunday. Some 430 argued for a pardon and 379 opposed it.
The website was created in mid-December after Albuquerque lawyer Randi McGinn petitioned for a pardon, contending New Mexico Territorial Governor Lew Wallace promised one in return for the Kid’s testimony in a murder case against three men.
Mr Richardson’s term ends on Friday, leaving him only a few days to decide whether to pardon the Kid over the 1878 killing of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady.
“I might not pardon him. But then I might,” Mr Richardson said.
His successor, incoming Governor Susana Martinez, has already said she will not be wasting her time on a pardon. The Republican said 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.
Billy the Kid, also known as William Bonney or Henry McCarty, was shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett in July 1881, a few months after escaping from the Lincoln County jail where he was awaiting hanging for Brady’s death. He killed two deputies while escaping, but Ms McGinn’s pardon request does not cover those deaths.
Ms McGinn, knowing Mr Richardson’s interest in the Kid, offered to look into the issue this summer. She petitioned for a pardon on December 14 after reviewing historical documents and other material.