LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The teenager accused of killing his parents and three siblings in 2019 is back in court Friday for the fifth day of his capital murder trial. Sisk was 14 years old when his family was killed.
Late in the evening on September 2, 2019, the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office was called to a home on Ridge Road in Elkmont where they found John Wayne Sisk, 38, Mary Sisk, 35, and three children — 6-year-old Kane, 4-year-old Aurora and 6-month-old Colson. All had been shot in the head and killed.
Sisk is now on trial for multiple counts of capital murder. Due to his age at the time of the crime, he is not eligible for the death penalty.
During Tuesday’s testimony, the court heard from several witnesses including the family friends of the Sisks visited in Florida the weekend before the murders, as well as first responders who were on the scene that September night.
On Wednesday, the court viewed autopsy photos and body camera footage from the night of the murders. Dr. Jonrika Malone, the state medical examiner who performed the autopsies, and Limestone County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Fields, the first deputy to speak to Sisk at the scene, were some of the witnesses called.
On Thursday, court was in session for nearly 12 hours. At the beginning of the day, the defense filed a motion for a mistrial, and Limestone County Judge Chadwick Wise said he would take the motion “under advisement” before testimony continued from multiple witnesses, including Sisk’s former girlfriend and another teen who went to school with Sisk.
News 19 Investigative Reporter Dallas Parker reported that the court was shown up-close photos of the victims without warning. Mary Sisk’s family members were all seen visibly struggling through this and other parts of the day.
Friday morning began with no decision from the judge on the pending mistrial motion from Sisk’s defense. The first witness of the day was called by the prosecution, Kimberly McCluskey, who worked as a nurse practitioner in the Limestone County Jail. She did a mental health check on Mason in Feb. 2021. The defense objected, and the prosecution decided not to question McCluskey further.
Jamie King, a former Limestone County Sheriff’s deputy now working for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) took the stand and was referred to as a “firearms expert” by the prosecution. King was asked about becoming a certified sniper with the Marines, qualifications for shooting small targets, and combat marksmanship. Sisk’s defense has previously questioned how Sisk could have the skills to kill five people so rapidly and accurately with a pistol.
King also spent time as a Narcotics Investigator with LCSO and was asked if he recalled any calls about the Ridge Road home, he said no. Earlier testimony cited that the father, John Sisk, had drugs in the home and Mary Sisk disposed of them by ‘call to the cops.’
King was involved in the search for the alleged murder weapon the day after the shooting. The weapon found was a Smith and Wesson 9mm pistol. He says there was an unspent round in the chamber, and the magazine was empty. He later discussed how similar the pistol was to the replica BB gun that Sisk owned. King claimed that if someone could operate the BB gun, they could operate the 9mm.
During the defense’s cross-examination, they also discuss firearm training and how those fundamentals matter in the training. King said fundamentals matter, “at a distance.” The defense noted that even with all King’s extensive training he still scored a 90 on the test, missing 10% of his shots.
The final question from the prosecution was about “first-person shooter video games.” Earlier testimony from one of Sisk’s friends claimed Mason enjoyed playing Call of Duty, an example of those types of video games. King claims it is fair to say a person can “gain important knowledge about firearms” from the games. He was asked how far the gun was found from the home, “three to four steps. Just off the side of the road.” King excused.
The next witness to take the stand was Johnny Morrell, a lieutenant in investigations for LCSO. He testified on Sheriff Blakely taking Mason into the interview room. The room had two recording devices and two cameras, and all of the recordings were stored on a hard drive.
Morrell was in the interview room with Mason. The interview sheet contained basic information, like that it was 1:30 a.m. and Mason was sober. He was wearing a hoodie and sweatpants. They got a statement from him as a witness and provided him with a juvenile Miranda warning.
The warning stated that he had the right to communicate with his parents or lawyer. He signed and said he didn’t need a lawyer at that time and he would talk. It was said that Mason made and recorded a statement and did not promise anything, nor threatened.
The court was then shown the interview room video that was recorded. Former sheriff Mike Blakely entered the interview room with a large cigar hanging out of his mouth. They prepared Mason’s hands to test for gunpowder residue. Blakely also asked him for his phone and passcode to get his girlfriend’s number. He asks Mason why he had called his girlfriend before he had called 911.
Mason responded, “I didn’t know what to do.” The court watched the video as Blakely took his picture, almost like a mugshot. He was asked to take off his sweatshirt, leaving him in a tank top. Mason was asked about his little brother, Kane, as the teen fidgets the entire time. “What happened tonight?”
Mason answered, “I was downstairs playing video games… heard five shots… heard someone go out the door and saw his tail lights.” He then asked him about what his father did for work, “he fixes RVs on call,” the teen answered again.
They asked about any friends Mason may have, he said he has none and that he keeps to himself. They asked about his mother, Mary. She was a special education teacher in Huntsville. The investigator left the room. Mason fidgeted and picked at his skin. He was asked his siblings’ names, and he gave them. Blakely then returned to the interview room.
“Why call your girlfriend before 911,” Blakely asked. Mason gave the same answer, “I didn’t know what to do.” The sheriff asked him how far he drove his mother’s car, but he says it was only down the driveway. When asked, Mason said that he got along with his parents, but his father would “yell at them.”
Once again investigators ask him about what video games he was playing. Mason said either racing or Call of Duty. He was asked if there were any other guns at the home, but he said no. They read Mason his Miranda rights and explained his right to a lawyer. Mason was told he had the right to stop talking at any time. He said he understood and signed the form. The court saw Blakely leave the room, he said in order to make a call.
The former sheriff returned to the interview room. He asked Mason when th family had returned from their vacation. He told investigators around 8 p.m. He then recounted what had happened again: he was playing video games downstairs, he heard shots go off upstairs and footsteps, he called his girlfriend, got his mother’s keys and drove to the end of the driveway. Blakely asked if he had entered his parent’s room. He responded, “no, sir… called [girlfriend] and she said to call 911.”
Blakely asked the teen, “how did you know your family had been killed?” Mason said, “[it was an] assumption. [I] heard shots and assumed.” The sheriff continued, “You assumed all five had been shot. Why assume that?” Blakely said that he didn’t believe Mason’s story.
The former sheriff acknowledged that Mason’s girlfriend had said John was mean, and would hit Mary. He said he was going to talk to everyone Mason knew and “ask them about your daddy.” The teen told Blakely that he had been in Decatur hospital for a week and he had talked about hurting himself. That resulted in him attending anger management. Blakely questioned him about his medications.
“Mason, whatever happened tonight, if you tell us the truth you’ll be much better off… it’s not normal to call [your girlfriend] after thinking [your] whole family had been shot… tell the truth.” Mason told Blakley about how his father would drink and it would upset his mother. She would cry and he [John] would watch his television shows. He recalled a time when his father took off his wedding band and threw it on the couch. However, things were better after that and leading up to the beach trip.
When they returned home from Florida, they all went to bed. While playing his game, that’s when Mason heard the shots. He went upstairs and found his family with “blood on their faces” and then he saw the tail lights retreating from the house. Blakely said he was lying, and that he needed to stop. “I got a total of 50 years in law enforcement,” he added.
Mason tells the sheriff that he doesn’t have a gun and he didn’t shoot his family members. Mason was told, “we’ll get to the bottom of this… [I] can tell you’re being untruthful.” Blakley added that there have been many things the teen has said that didn’t make sense. The investigator told Mason that he understands the family tensions. He responded, “I got tired of it. Yes, I killed them.” When asked about the location of the gun he said, “take a right, jog a half mile down… on the side of the road.”
The investigator and Blakely continue to ask how the killings happened. Mason admitted to punching a hole in the wall when they returned from their trip. “Parents fought all the time,” Mason said. “I didn’t want [siblings] to grow up in a house like that.”
Returning to the subject of the gun, they asked him where he’d got it and how it worked. Mason said it was a pulled slide back. He began apologizing for lying to the sheriff and the investigator. Blakely said he knew when the records showed that he had called his girlfriend before 911. The investigator tried asking about who was shot first, but the teen said he was unsure. He reiterated that he had punched a wall before. He said that his mother was too hard on him and his siblings.
The investigators asked about his mental health, “have you ever tried to kill yourself?” Mason said it had never gotten that far. He had thought about it, but felt he had to “continue the Sisk name.” He also admitted to thinking about killing prior to the murders. The investigators asked how far away he had been standing when he allegedly shot them, he said between three to four feet.
A plan was made to drive with Mason to the area where the gun was. He apologized again for lying to authorities. The investigators said they understood the situation with his family was tough on him. The video ends and the court breaked for lunch.
The trial resumed with Lt. Morrell having returned to the stand. The jury was sent out while the lawyers and judge conferred. Mason’s Miranda forms were the discussion of validity, due to the fact that he printed his name on the signature line. The jury returned to the courtroom.
During cross-examination, the witness said that if a phone can’t be opened due to the passcode, it is sent to three locations, each federal labs. The sheriff’s office can’t go through the phone unless authorized by the court or other permission.
The defense pointed out that the night of the interview, the investigator said, “I get it, you got fed up,” before Mason did. They believe that the investigator provided the motive and the sheriff supplied the chain of events. The defense reiterated that Mason apologized for lying to investigators, not shooting. When asked if they had found a gun that night, the lieutenant said they did not. The defense ended the cross-examination.
The state reiterated that Mason said he’d “thought about killing,” and that his mother was overbearing. Morell was excused from the witness stand. The State of Alabama rested it’s case and began a short break.
The court returned without a jury. The defense made requests for judgment of acquittal based on insufficient evidence, but the court had to rule on that before the case could move forward. The court denied the defense’s motion for acquittal and for a mistrial.
The Mason Sisk trial ended for the day. The jury is due back at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.
You can follow Friday’s proceedings below. App users, tap here to view the blog.