The centerpiece of the 2020 Pat Garrett Western Heritage Festival is the reenactment of the Fountain Murder Trial.
Colonel Albert J. and Henry Fountain were ambushed February 1, 1896. The evidence indicated that although Colonel Fountain was killed during the ambush, his eight-year-old son was taken alive and only killed the next day.
This crime shocked and outraged the citizens of New Mexico. It was not the killing of Colonel Fountain, a Union Civil War veteran and a prominent New Mexico attorney, which roused the physical disgust of the citizenry – after all, it was not unknown for distinguished men to be killed. It was the cold-blooded murder of his eight-year-old son which provoked the public outcry and revulsion.
The trial of the men indicted for the killings was held May 25, 1899, in Hillsboro, New Mexico. The reenactment presented at the Festival uses the actual words of the trial. The audience will hear the evidence of guilt or innocence just as the jurors did. At the end of the reenactment, twelve jurors, true and fair, selected from the audience, will render their judgment: Guilty? Not Guilty?