If Billy the Kid would have been given a fair trial in the Cahill incident, would the Kid have been convicted of murder or a lesser charge?
San Francisco, California
Just to review, Frank “Windy” Cahill was a blacksmith at Arizona’s Fort Grant who reportedly bullied Henry “Billy the Kid” McCarty over a period of time. During an argument on August 17, 1877, Cahill pinned the Kid to the ground and pummeled him; the Kid pulled a gun and shot Cahill, who died the next day. At least one witness regarded it as self-defense, which, in my opinion, demonstrates that the Kid had a good chance of being cleared of any crime with the help of an attorney. But he ran away from the law instead.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official state historian and the vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen.
If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org