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Mr. Richardson welcomed comments from the public about the petition until Sunday, as stated on a Web page devoted specifically to the Billy the Kid case.

Ms. McGinn said serving justice is at the heart of the petition.

“If the governor makes a promise to a good man or to a bad man, you have to keep your promise,” said Ms. McGinn, who said the moral uprightness of all involved parties, including the authority that prosecuted Billy the Kid, is questionable.

An effort was made in 2001 to pardon the notorious outlaw, but then-Gov. Gary E. Johnson, a Republican, rejected it. One of his spokesmen told reporters back then that “the purpose of a pardon is to restore somebodys civil rights - as Billy the Kid is deceased, he is not in need of restoration of his rights.”

Mr. Richardson expressed interest in the Kids case publicly as early as 2003.

“As someone who is fascinated with New Mexico’s rich history, I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Billy the Kid - and, in particular, the alleged promise of a pardon he was given by Territorial Gov. Lew Wallace,” Mr. Richardson said in a statement last week.

Public opinion seems to oppose a pardon grant. In an informal online El Paso Times poll with nearly 600 participants as of Sunday afternoon, 44 percent opposed a pardon, while just 21 percent approved it. The remainder of the participants indicated they were either undecided or indifferent.

Ms. McGinn, who began working on research for the petition six months ago and filed it on Dec. 14, said she isnt surprised public opinion is against Billy the Kid, as he has 129 years of history painting him as a bad character.

“Whoever wins the war writes the history,” she said.