ABC, 19 May 2017: A century-old document found inside a box of unarchived records in a southern New Mexico county is shedding a little more light on the shooting death of the Old West lawman who gained fame for killing Billy the Kid.
Dated July 9, 1908, the nearly illegible handwritten coroner's jury report refers to the investigation of the death of Pat Garrett, who served as sheriff in Lincoln and Dona Ana counties before being appointed as a customs collector along the U.S.-Mexico border. Garrett died Feb. 29, 1908.
Historians have searched for years for additional official documents beyond court records and newspaper articles from the time that assigned blame for Garrett's shooting death since some have their own theories about who pulled the trigger.
Signed by several justices of the peace and coroners, the document states that Garrett was reported dead in Dona Ana County in the territory of New Mexico about five miles northeast of Las Cruces.
They found that "the deceased came to his death by gunshot wounds inflicted by one Wayne Brazel."
The document was found in November by Angelica Valenzuela, the records and filing supervisor with the county clerk's office, as part of a preservation effort that involved records spanning the last half of the 1800s through the mid-1960s.
"She knew as soon as she saw it that it was worth gold," county spokesman Jess Williams said of the signed jury report.