DEAD: Pat Garrett

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Pat Garrett (aged 57)
American sheriff known for killing Billy the Kid

Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett (June 5, 1850 – February 29, 1908) was an American Old West lawman, bartender and customs agent who became renowned for killing Billy the Kid. He was the sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico as well as Doña Ana County, New Mexico. He co-authored a book about Billy the Kid which, for a generation after the Kid’s death, was deemed authoritative; however, historians have since found many embellishments and inconsistencies with other accounts of the outlaw’s life. Garrett was murdered under unclear circumstances.

DEATH: Dudley Poe Garrett, Pat’s son, had signed a five-year lease for his Bear Canyon Ranch with Jesse Wayne Brazel. Garrett and his son objected when Brazel began bringing in large herds of goats, which were anathema to cattlemen like Garrett. Garrett tried to break the lease when he learned that the money for Brazel’s operation had been put up by his neighbor, W.W. “Bill” Cox. He was further angered when he learned that Archie Prentice “Print” Rhode was Brazel’s partner in the huge goat herd. When Brazel refused, the matter went to court. At this point James B. Miller met with Garrett to try to solve the problem. Miller met with Brazel, who agreed to cancel his lease with Garrett – provided a buyer could be found for his herd of 1,200 goats. Carl Adamson, who was related to Miller by marriage, agreed to buy the 1,200 goats. Just when the matter seemed resolved, Brazel claimed that he had “miscounted” his goat herd, claiming there were actually 1,800 – rather than his previous estimate of 1,200. Adamson refused to buy that many goats, but agreed to meet with Garrett and Brazel to see if they could reach some sort of agreement.

Garrett and Carl Adamson rode together, heading from Las Cruces, New Mexico in Adamson’s wagon. Brazel appeared on horseback along the way. Garrett was shot and killed, but exactly by whom remains the subject of controversy. Brazel and Adamson left the body by the side of the road and returned to Las Cruces, where Brazel surrendered to Deputy Sheriff Felipe Lucero. More than thirty years later, Lucero claimed that Brazel exclaimed, “Lock me up. I’ve just killed Pat Garrett!” Brazel then pointed to Adamson and said, “He saw the whole thing and knows that I shot in self-defense.” Deputy Lucero incarcerated Brazel, summoned a coroner’s jury, and rode to Pat Garrett’s death site.

Brazel’s trial for Garrett’s murder concluded on May 4, 1909. Brazel was represented at his trial by attorney and future Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall. The only eyewitness to Garrett’s murder, Adamson, never appeared at the trial, which lasted only one day and ended with an acquittal.

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