ALBUQUERQUE — More people say they favor a pardon for Billy the Kid than oppose the idea after Gov. Bill Richardson's office set up a website and e-mail address to take comments on a possible posthumous pardon for one of New Mexico's most infamous Old West outlaws.
Richardson's office received 809 e-mails and letters in the survey that ended Sunday. Some 430 argued for a pardon and 379 opposed it.
The website was created in mid-December after Albuquerque attorney Randi McGinn petitioned for a pardon, contending New Mexico Territorial Gov. Lew Wallace promised one in return for the Kid's testimony in a murder case against three men.
Richardson's term ends Friday, leaving him only a few days to decide whether to pardon the Kid in the 1878 killing of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady.
His successor, incoming Gov. Susana Martinez, has said she won't waste her time on a pardon. The Republican said Tuesday that state issues, such as a balanced budget and a controversial move of the state's DNA laboratory, were more pressing.
"There's an awful lot of work to be taken care of for us to be wasting so much time on such a consideration. It's just a waste," she said.
Billy the Kid, also known as William Bonney or Henry McCarty, was shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett in July 1881, a few months after escaping from the Lincoln County jail where he was awaiting hanging for Brady's death. He killed two deputies while escaping, but McGinn's pardon request does not cover those deaths.
McGinn, knowing Richardson's interest in the Kid, offered to look into the issue this summer. She petitioned for a pardon Dec. 14 after reviewing historical documents and other material.
E-mails debating the issue came from all over the U.S. and beyond, including England, Japan, France and New Zealand, said Richardson's deputy chief of staff, Eric Witt.
"This has clearly generated a lot of interest globally," Witt said.