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    Jim Williams from The Book

James Arthur Williams (December 11, 1930 - January 14, 1990) was a noted Savannah, Georgia antiques dealer and restorer of historic homes. Williams is, however, best known for his role as the central character in John Berendt's non-fiction bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Of historical significance, too, is the fact that Williams was the only person in the state of Georgia ever to be tried four times for the same crime-- the alleged murder of his assistant, Danny Lewis Hansford, on May 2, 1981, in Williams' home, Mercer House.

Williams, who was born in Gordon, Georgia, played an active role in the preservation of Savannah's historic district, beginning in the mid-1950's. After several years of purchasing, restoring and selling historic homes, he was able to purchase Mercer House in 1969, after it had stood empty for more than 10 years, its last occupants, the Shriners organization, having used the building as their Alee Temple. He restored the home completely and operated his antiques restoration business out of the carriage house in the rear of the mansion.

After his 1981 arrest for the shooting of Danny Hansford and the subsequent four trials, Williams was finally acquitted by a jury in Augusta, Georgia, in 1989. He unfortunately was not able to enjoy his freedom for very long; he died unexpectedly in his home on January 14, 1990, aged 59, from pneumonia and heart failure, six months after the trial. He is buried next to his mother, Blanche Brooks Williams, in Ramah Church Cemetery, Gordon, Georgia.

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