Inside the Capitol

Friday, July 30, 2010

8-4 Pat Garrett's Kin visit Gov

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- August 4, 2010 could be a big day in New Mexico's Billy the Kid saga.
For over seven years, during Gov. Bill Richardson's administration, the Billy the Kid legend has enjoyed a rebirth of popularity. Some of it has helped focus attention on our state. But overall, it has hurt New Mexico more than it has helped.
In May 2003, Gov. Richardson and some downstate lawmen began an investigation of Pat Garrett's killing of Billy the Kid and whether it is Billy buried in that Fort Sumner grave.
Both of those reasons for an investigation assumed there is a question about whether Garrett shot the Kid, accidentally or on purpose.
If Garrett didn't shoot the Kid, he was guilty of a massive cover up and a fraudulent claim for the reward. And if the shooting wasn't accidental, he also was guilty of murder.
Pretenders to Billy's identity had him leaving New Mexico and living out his life in Texas, Arizona, Mexico or who knows where else.
But definitely not in New Mexico where he could be hunted down. The doubt created in people's minds causes Billy to be lost to New Mexico history.
The most persistent of those pretenders was Brushy Bill Roberts of Hamilton, Texas. His claim is unbelievable to any historian and was disavowed by his family, one of whom produced a bible indicating he was two when the Kid was shot.
Roberts asked for a pardon in 1950. He came to see Gov. Tom Mabry who quickly discerned that Brushy's handlers had done a very poor job of preparing him.
Gov. Mabry sent Brushy and friends on their way without a pardon. But now Gov. Richardson is looking at a pardon for Billy -- or is it Brushy? The investigation of who Garrett shot has not been completed and there is evidence the governor for some reason wants to pardon Brushy.
All this got to be too much for the Garrett family. It is a large family. Garrett had eight children. Three of the grand children -- Jarvis Patrick Garrett, Susan Floyd Garrett and Pauline Garrett Tillinghast -- will meet today with Gov. Richardson .
They will request the governor cease his pardon consideration and apologize to them for his actions which have resulted in the defamation of a great man.
Pat Garrett was a great man in New Mexico history. The Garretts are our form of Old West royalty. Pat's daughter Elizabeth, of Roswell, wrote the words and music to New Mexico's state song "O, Fair New Mexico."
The current Garretts, not surprisingly, are law-and-order people -- like Pat himself. They strongly disapprove of pardoning Billy the Kid with his record of murdering lawmen. In all, the Kid killed a sheriff and three deputies.
Three of the Garretts attended the Wild West History Association Roundup in Ruidoso two weeks ago. The main topic of this national association's annual meeting was Billy the Kid.
Besides the three Garretts, five members of the John Tunstall family traveled from England to be present. Tunstall, for whom Billy worked as a cowhand, was murdered by a posse connected to the Santa Fe Ring. That murder set off the Lincoln County War.
The Garretts passed a petition at the Roundup stating that the undersigned accept the traditional history of Sheriff Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and believe the Kid died at Garrett's hand.
Therefore they oppose a posthumous pardon for Billy the Kid. They will present the petition and signatures to the governor today.
It would be nice if the media would accept the traditional history. It seems like almost every article that is written about Billy the Kid casts doubt on whether Garrett shot Billy. It may be fun to have the controversy but it doesn't help the state and actually hurts families such as the Garretts.
Practically everyone in Fort Sumner turned out to view Billy's body that night. They knew him well and loved him. That's why Billy went there instead of heading out of state. Can you imagine all of them participating in a cover up for the rest of their lives?
WED, 8-04-10

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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