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Garrett’s shooting of Billy the Kid a ‘justifiable homicide’


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Here is the transcript of the coroner’s verdict related to the death of William H. Bonney, alias Billy the Kid.

From the Lincoln County Records File, New Mexico Archives and Records Center

Territory of New Mexico, Precinct No. 27
San Miguel County of the First Judicial District
To the Attorney General of the Territory of New Mexico


This, the fifteenth day of July, 1881, I, the undersigned justice of the peace, received information that there had been a death in Fort Sumner in said precinct and immediately upon receiving the information proceeded to the said place and named Milnor Rudolph, Jose Silva, Antonio Saavaedra, Pedro Antonio Lucero, Lorenzo Jaramillo and Sabal Gutierrez a jury to investigate the matter, and convening said jury in the house of Luz B. Maxwell proceeded to a room in said house where was found the body of William Bonney, alias ‘Kid,’ with a bullet wound in his breast on the left side of the chest and having examined the body, examined the evidence of Pete Maxwell whose testimony was as follows:  “I was accosted in my bed in a room of my house in the middle of the night, the 14th day of July.  Pat. F. Garrett entered my room and seated himself on the corner of my bed to speak with me.  A little after Garrett sat down, William Bonney entered and came toward my bed with a pistol in his hand and asked me, ‘Who is it?  Who is it?’  And then, Pat. F. Garrett fired two bullets at said William Bonney and the said Bonney fell to one side of my stove, and I fled from the room.  When I returned three or four minutes after the gunshots, the said Bonney was dead.”

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The jury has arrived at the following verdict:

We, of the jury, unanimously find that William Bonney has been killed by a bullet entering the left side of his chest in the region of the heart fired from a pistol in the hand of Pat. F. Garret, and our verdict is that the said act of said Garrett was justifiable homicide and we are unanimously of the opinion that the gratitude of the whole community is owed to said Garrett for his deed, and that he deserves to be rewarded.

Milnor Rudolph, President
Antonio Saavedra 
Pedro Anto. Lucero 
Jose Silva 
Sabal Gutierrez 
Lorenzo Jaramillo 

All this information I place at your disposal.

Alejandro Segur, Justice of the Peace

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