1 Jan 2011

Billy the Kid denied posthumous pardon

10:59 am on 1 January 2011

American Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid has been denied a pardon 130 years after his death.

The possibility was first suggested when historical documents appeared to show that the 19th century bandit had been promised a pardon in return for testifying in a murder case.

Billy the Kid, whose real name was William Bonney, was 21 when he was shot dead after escaping from jail in 1881 and is linked to as many as 27 murders, the BBC reports.

But his undoubted skill with a gun and personal charm made him more of a folk hero than a notorious criminal and his brief life has inspired dozens of books and films.

Supporters campaigned for a pardon, but New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has refused one following extensive research.

"The romanticism appealed to me, but the evidence didn't support the idea," he said.

Eventually captured by Sheriff Patrick Floyd Garrett, Billy the Kid stood trial for an 1878 murder and was sentenced to hang.

He escaped jail on 30 April 1881, killing two deputies before going on the run and was eventually tracked down and shot by Sheriff Garrett on 14 July.