Wanted: Pardon for 'Billy the Kid'

ByABC News
February 1, 2001, 10:20 AM

A L B U Q U E R Q U E, N.M., Feb. 1 -- Billy the Kid was among the mostnotorious figures of the early frontier, a legendary outlaw whokilled several lawmen at a time when blazing, six-gun showdownswere part of the Wild West.

Nearly 120 years after his death, a New Mexico lawmaker hasoffered a proposal that could set up a different kind of showdown:whether the outlaw should be given a posthumous pardon.

Rep. Ben Rios introduced the proposal asking Gov. Gary Johnsonto pardon Henry McCarty aka Billy the Kid.

But relatives of Sheriff William Brady, who was ambushed byBilly and others in Lincoln on April 1, 1878, aren't ready toforgive or forget.

"Whoever said something like that has got to be crazy," saidBennett Brady, 70, the sheriff's great-grandson. "No, he doesn'tdeserve pardoning. As far as I'm concerned, that's wrong."

Robin Hood or Cold-Blooded Killer?

The outlaw's descendants "just want to see if Billy could bepardoned, for the peace of mind of whoever is left who knew Billyor their family knew Billy," Rios said Wednesday. Although Rioswould not say who the descendants are, he said a "spokesman forthe family" asked him to seek the pardon.

Neither Bennett Brady nor Assistant New Mexico Attorney GeneralJoel Jacobsen, who wrote a book about Billy the Kid, knew of anysurviving descendants of the outlaw.

Billy the Kid was sentenced to hang in April 1881 for shootingBrady in the back as the sheriff was walking down the dusty mainstreet of Lincoln, a little cattle town in southern New Mexico. Heescaped jail weeks later by killing two deputies, and was shot todeath by Sheriff Pat Garrett in July 1881.

Some consider Billy the Kid a cold-blooded killer, while otherssay he's a Robin Hood of the Old West who helped the oppressedduring a corrupt time.

Jacobsen's book, "Such Men as Billy the Kid," tells how theLincoln County War began after Lawrence G. Murphy, James J. Dolanand Emil Fritz went into partnership in Lincoln. U.S. AttorneyThomas B. Catron, head of the powerful "Santa Fe Ring" that ranthe New Mexico territory, was an investor in their store.