Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has taken it upon himself to complete some unfinished business by former Governor Lew Wallace during the late 1800's.
Wallace during his tenure as Governor promised famous outlaw Billy the Kid a pardon for his many crimes if he testified before a grand jury about a killing he witnessed.
A few weeks ago Richardson announced he was going to open up a review on the pardon that was to take place nearly 130 years ago.
According to documents Billy the Kid did in fact testify but was never granted the promised pardon.
In an attempt to get all the facts and to make his decision easier Richardson has spent time speaking with family members of Billy the Kid and with members of Sheriff Pat Garrett family - the man who arrested and later shot the Kid in 1881.
“This is our history, and it’s important to New Mexico and we can’t arbitrarily alter it,” said Susannah Garrett, 55, a granddaughter of the sheriff.
“If Billy the Kid were living amongst us now, would you issue a pardon for someone who made his living as a thief and, more egregiously, who killed four law enforcement officers and numerous others?” the Garrett family wrote to Richardson last month.
Pat Garrett was the grandson of Irish immigrants while Billy the Kid was really William McCarty, both of whose parents came from Ireland.
Elbert Garcia, a great-grandson of the outlaw, has pushed for a pardon back in 2001 but has remained mum on the subject this time round.
Richardson said his decision on the pardon will be made on his investigations.
“It will be based on the facts, on the documents, on the discussions between Lew Wallace and Billy the Kid,” Mr. Richardson said in his office this week. “It’s a question of whether as a governor, I would be fulfilling my obligations in the area of pardons by fulfilling this promise that was never kept.”
He added, “Admittedly, this also gets good publicity for the state.”