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SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson still has Billy the Kid on his mind. This time, instead of trying to dig him up, he’s wanting to pardon him for his sins.
The governor invited me to his office a few months ago to ask if I would help him gauge public opinion, especially among the Billy community, about his project.
It seemed harmless enough. There are an extensive number of Billy fans stretched around the world. When I was writing columns on the attempted exhumations back in 2003-2004, replies came from England, Iraq, Australia and many other far-flung places.
From them I received replies that the pardon seemed like a good idea if it would involve a panel of experts addressing the subject in a dignified and scholarly manner so that the conclusion would be respected.
Most Billy fans want to see the pardon granted that Gov. Lew Wallace promised but never got around to addressing. They saw Billy as a freedom fighter against the Santa Fe Ring and its Lincoln County operatives.
Numerous historians cautioned that any pardon consideration must be based on the information Gov. Wallace had at the time. Billy had not yet shot the two deputy sheriffs during his famous jailbreak.