Inside the Capitol

Monday, June 21, 2010

Revised 6-23 Kid's Pardon a Publicity Stunt

SANTA FE -- I recently wrote of Gov. Bill Richardson's request that I sample public sentiment concerning a pardon for Billy the Kid. Thus far, the sentiment has ranged from excitement to disgust. The following example of the latter was received from Dr. Gale Cooper, author of "Mega Hoax: The Strange Plot to Exhume Billy the Kid and Become President."

In the good old days (1878-2002), Billy the Kid aficionados had only one problem: to decide if he was an outlaw or a rebel with a cause.
In 2003, everything changed because of Gov. Bill Richardson's quixotic scheme to hijack Billy's history as a publicity stunt for his planned presidential run; and as an apparent favor for his major donor, Attorney Bill Robins III, an Old West buff seemingly attached to pretender "Brushy Bill" Roberts (two years old at Billy's death).
Called the Billy the Kid Case, the stunt was a real murder investigation filed in Lincoln and De Baca Counties against Pat Garrett. Why? Garrett was accused as the murderer of an innocent victim instead of Billy, on July 14, 1881, to fill the Fort Sumner grave. Why? Because "Pat Garrett did not kill Billy the Kid" grabbed headlines. Was it true? No. Billy's corpse had enough eye-witnesses (including coroner's jurymen) to rival Abraham Lincoln's lying in state.
So the endeavor was actually the most elaborate historic-forensic hoax ever perpetrated. And in its seven years, it produced no evidence to contradict established history. But it made great sound bites like: "Why are they so afraid of the truth?"
What was done? As the country's only governor selling his state's iconic history for a bowl of political porridge, Richardson - with recruited lawmen and with Bill Robins III appointed as the attorney bizarrely "speaking" for dead Billy - sought to exhume Billy and his mother to "compare DNA."
Omitted for the public was that their grave sites were just tourist markers, and the state Medical Investigator refused digging permits based on silliness. So legal opposition in Silver City and Fort Sumner stopped that phase.
But it did not stop hoaxers' digging. TV programs and a movie were at stake. So backhoed were Arizona pretender, John Miller, and a random man buried beside him, William Hudspeth, to compare their DNA with alleged DNA of Billy the Kid.
Where did the hoaxers get Billy's DNA? Creatively fabricating, they claimed acquisition of Billy's blood from a carpenter's bench on which Billy was allegedly laid out (abandoning their "innocent victim" ploy, and floating humorously that Billy had merely "played dead.") Flashy forensic expert, Dr. Henry Lee, used to swab the bench, and under American Academy of Forensic Sciences Ethics Committee investigation, denied making any conclusions attributed to him by the hoaxers.
What happened to the "DNA matching results?" They are concealed by the hoaxers; even defying a three year open records case. Why? Apparently the "results" are of fake Billy-bench-DNA matched to random man William Hudspeth's (no DNA came from John Miller)!
So if there is a living Hudspeth relative reading this: Congratulations; you and your chosen attorney just won the death lottery for his indignity. And you – and he – are now part of Billy the Kid history.
What about "Brushy Bill" Roberts's bones? In 2007, local officials laughed the hoaxers out of Hamilton, Texas: location of his gravesite.
Gov. Richardson is now in the last gasp of his hoax: pardoning Billy. Or is it Billy? As Attorney Bill Robins III states in his exhumation petitions: "he" deserves a pardon for having led a "long and law-abiding life" as "Brushy Bill." Real Billy had a short one. And law-abiding was not his strong suit.
The only pardon in question, is whether New Mexicans should pardon Bill Richardson for seven years of using their taxpayer dollars for sheriffs' departments, district courts, and public attorneys to oppose open records act requests in an attempt to give to Texas New Mexico's Old West Billy. And, ironically, Richardson wants to schedule his pardon charade during the October balloon festival. So there can be hot air in two places at the same time.


The only revision is at the end of the first paragraph, which is my introduction to the rest of the column that is written by Dr. Cooper.


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