Billy the KidEarly in 1880, Sheriff Pat Garrett deposited Billy the Kid in jail, and left town thinking this would be the last he would ever see of “the Kid”.  But it wasn’t so.  Here is the story of what happened.

Pat Garrett was elected sheriff on the promise that he would bring in Billy the Kid.  And within a couple of months after being elected, he made good on his promise.  Feeling that chapter closed, Pat Garrett left to find other outlaws.

 Billy the Kid was transferred to the town of Messilla, New Mexico for trial.  Having a number of possible charges to place against him, they settled on the killing Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady three years earlier.

Billy the Kid was convicted of murdering Sheriff Brady.  In pronouncing the sentence, Judge Bristol said, “You are sentenced to be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead.”  Billy the Kid comely responded, “And you can go to…” three times.  The hanging was set for May.

Billy the Kid was sent back to Lincoln, New Mexico. Lincoln didn’t have a formal jail so he was shackled, locked in a room on the second floor of the courthouse and placed under a twenty-four hour guard.

On April 28, 1881 Billy received a note with one word on it…“Privy”.  Understanding the meaning, Billy said he had to go to the outhouse.  Hidden in the outhouse was a pistol.  As Billy the Kid was returning to his room, he pulled the pistol and shot his escort.  Next he broke into the armory, and got a shotgun.  From a second floor window he yelled down to Robert Olinger, a guard that had been ragging on him.  When Robert looked up, he was sent to eternity by a blast from his own shotgun.

An hour later, with shackles still hanging from one leg, Billy the Kid rode out of town, once again escaping death.

Filed under: Old West History

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