Thursday, August 31, 2006

Billy the Kid

Still standing in the southeast corner of the Mesilla plaza is the courthouse and jail where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to death by hanging.

The only authentic picture of Billy.

Billy had been captured December 23, 1880 in the Fort Sumner area.

On March 28, 1881, he was transported to Mesilla by train for trial for the murders of Andrew "Buckshot" Roberts and Sheriff William Brady. It was decided he would be tried for each offense separately.

His trial for killing "Buckshot" Roberts began on March 30, 1881. The case against him in this trail was thrown-out on the grounds that the killing took place on private land, not public land, and the government thus had no standing to prosecute.

The trial for the killing of Sheriff Brady began April 8. The judge presiding, Judge Bristol, dismissed Billy's defense attorney from the first trial and appointed John D. Bail and Albert Fountain to represent him. Although he didn't say so, the judge felt that his first attorney had done too good a job.

On April 13. the jury brought in its verdict: guilty. The judge then sentenced Billy to death by hanging, to be carried out on May 13, 1881 in Lincoln, New Mexico.

In an interview later that day in the Mesilla News, Billy said the following:

"Well, I had intended at one time to not say a word in my own behalf, because persons would say, 'Oh, he lied'; Newman gave me a rough deal; has created prejudice against me, and is trying to incite a mob to lynch me. He sent me a paper which shows it; I think it a dirty, mean advantage to take of me considering my situation and knowing I could not defend myself by word or act. But I suppose he thought he would give me a kick down hill. Newman came to see me the other day; I refused to talk to him or tell him anything; but I believe the News is always willing to give its readers both sides of a question."

"If mob law is going to rule, better dismiss judge, sheriff, etc., and let all take chances alike. I expected to be lynched in going to Lincoln. Advise persons never to engage in killing."

Three days later he was taken to Lincoln. It was from the Lincoln courthouse that Billy escaped on April 28, killing two deputies.


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Blogger Unknown said...

HISTORIC items* on display
one day, 24 APRIL 2008

The museum display will feature historical photos, information and artifacts pertaining to Mesilla’s past. The subject of the museum display is the historic period of April 1881, when Billy the Kid was a prisoner in Mesilla and tried and convicted of murder. A team of volunteers has collected names and items for the display. One of the items is the barber chair – built c1870 – in which Billy the Kid sat. The chair was once in the Billy the Kid Museum, owned by Dr. George Griggs, in the 1930s, which is now La Posta Restaurant. The chair is currently in a private collection. An open house of the museum display will take place in the new visitor center, Mesilla Town Hall -
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 24 April 2008

*From the private collection of Frank Parrish, nature photographer

4:13 AM  

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