Local Historians Weigh in on Billy the Kid Pardon
POSTED: Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 7:01pm
UPDATED: Friday, December 31, 2010 - 3:22pm
Almost 130 years after his death, the slate of notorious outlaw Billy the Kid may be wiped clean.
New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is deciding whether to pardon a notorious outlaw.
"He's become somewhat of a cult hero and oftentimes folks misjudge cult heroes and want to make them heroes without the baggage," said the chairman of the El Paso County Historical Commission, Bernie Sargent. He says despite his boyish features, Billy the Kid admittedly killed upwards of ten men.
"He came through El Paso several times we know of, he was quite a ladies man, and he spoke fluent Spanish, so he really hit off with the young senioritas quite well," Sargent said.
Rumor has it that 19th-century governor Lew Wallace told Billy he would be pardoned if he testified in a separate murder case. So New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has set up a website to take public input. But some are wondering, why now?
"I think it's become somewhat of a political foray by the soon to be ex-governor Richardson," Sargent said. "I'm glad he's paying attention to the history but at the same time there are more positive things he could be doing."
Bernie's not the only one who thinks that.
"I don't think he needs to get a pardon, he was just a common everyday criminal," said former history teacher Rod Linkous.
"It's not going to matter to him, everybody else that was there is long dead also, so its a moot point," said history enthusiast John Pittsenbargar.
Although he doesn't agree with the pardon, Sargent says he is glad some attention is focusing on the history of the wild west.
"Billy the Kid seemed to be the one that stuck in our memory banks the most when we were younger, and if anything it brings up an opportunity for people to study and learn more about the lore of the old west," Sargent says.
Richardson says he will announce his decision tomorrow on Good Morning America.