Viewers of Alex Murdaugh’s trial falsely claim to have seen author John Grisham in the courtroom

Eagle-eyed onlookers after Alex Murdaugh’s explosive murder trial sparked wild – but incorrect – speculation that acclaimed author John Grisham was in the courtroom.

Screenshots of a man who looks strikingly like Mr. Grisham began circulating on Twitter Thursday when Mr. Murdaugh was testifying in his own defense about the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina .

law and crime and Court TV both speculated about its appearance, with reporter Cathy Russon tweeting, “I think a book is coming…”

However, the rumors were quickly debunked as the man in question was correctly identified as Walterboro Mayor William T. Young Jr.

Reporter Jennifer Wood confirmed Mr Young’s identity in a Twitter post, writing: “Having chased this lovely gentleman down the street and spoken to him, I can confirm that he is indeed the mayor of beautiful Walterboro and not John Grisham, as everyone seems to think.

“It would have been embarrassing but he was adorable and made a giggle out of it.”

Mr Grisham has not publicly commented on the bizarre claims. The Independent has asked the author’s representatives for comment.

The trial, now nearing the end of its fifth week, reached a boiling point on Thursday when Mr Murdaugh took the witness stand.

He began his testimony by defiantly declaring that he did not shoot Maggie or Paul.

However, he admitted to lying to investigators about his alibi on the night of the murders, and lying when he said he was never inside the kennels where they were killed.

Mr Murdaugh accused his opioid addiction of giving him “paranoid thinking” and his distrust of SLED, which combined led him to lie to law enforcement officials, family members and friends on multiple occasions and over the past 20 months.

Alex Murdaugh cries as he testifies at his murder trial (AP)

The disgraced heir to a powerful legal dynasty broke down in tears as he described the moment he claims he discovered the bloodied bodies of his wife Maggie and son Paul at the family estate’s kennels.

Sobbing as he faced the jury, he repeated the same phrase he heard on the night of June 7, 2021 to describe the crime scene: “It was so bad.”

“My boy was lying face down … I could see his brain lying on the sidewalk. I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

The court heard his 911 call reporting the discovery, in which he claimed he touched both bloodied bodies. He offered no explanation for the claims made by several law enforcement officers at the scene that Mr Murdaugh appeared to have no blood on his hands or clothing.

Towards the end of a direct inquiry lasting several hours, Mr Murdaugh confessed to stealing money from his law firm – blaming his 20-year opioid addiction.

In a move aimed at undermining prosecutors’ theory of motive, Mr Murdaugh insisted he was not concerned his financial crimes were about to be exposed on June 7, 2021 – the day of the killings.

His testimony lasted until Thursday afternoon when prosecutors began questioning.

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