ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — An Elkmont teen, who is charged with killing five family members in September 2019, appeared in court Friday for a hearing on if an alleged confession he gave to investigators can be used as a part of his retrial.

Mason Sisk is accused of killing his father, John Wayne Sisk, 38; his stepmother, Mary Sisk, 35; and three siblings — a 6-year-old boy, Kane Sisk, a 4-year-old girl, Aurora Sisk and a 6-month-old boy, Colson Sisk. He was 14 at the time.

Sisk is facing multiple counts of capital murder and is set to go to trial on April 10.

Sisk allegedly confessed to the killings on the night of the murders, however, his defense argued that he was not read his Miranda rights before the confession. The suppression hearing will be used to help the court decide if his confession can be used as evidence against him in his retrial.

Sisk’s attorneys pushed several witnesses at Friday’s hearing concerning the timing of his law enforcement interview. They argued that he’d been detained by law enforcement for more than an hour in the back of a deputy’s car. Later, he was taken to the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. The defense argues, as a minor, he was entitled to have a family member or other adult representative present, but that didn’t happen.

Former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely was pressed during his testimony Friday on why they didn’t wait for Sisk’s grandmother to be contacted and arrive, before questioning the teen. Blakely said they tried, couldn’t find Sisk’s grandmother right away and they were looking for answers in the shooting deaths of five people.

‘Miranda rights’ stemmed from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says informing a person of their rights upon arrest is a fundamental right. A ‘Miranda warning’ is when authorities inform a person they have a right to remain silent, the fact that anything they say can be used in court and that they have a right to an attorney.

Sisk was previously on trial for the same charges in 2022, but a mistrial was declared because of new evidence that became available during the trial.

The issue of the alleged confession was taken up before that previous trial, and while the judge allowed the alleged statements then, the mistrial means the issue must be taken up by the court again.

News 19’s Investigative Team was in the courtroom for the suppression hearing on Friday. Since the matter had been looked at before, the hearing took a similar tone to the one in 2022.

At that time, the defense argued that Sisk had not been read his Miranda rights before being questioned. The prosecution argued that its initial on-scene questions and questions in the interrogation room did not require a Miranda warning.

In Friday’s hearing, several members of law enforcement testified that Sisk had initially only been held as a possible witness to the killings not a suspect, though some said he was not free to leave when he wished, he had his phone taken away and his request to make a call was denied.

The defense had previously said that Sisk was tested for gunshot residue, something it claimed requires a court order. On Friday, Lt. Johnny Morell, a Limestone County Sheriff’s Office investigator testified he did perform the test at the request of former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely. The tests were inconclusive, Morell testified today. The defense pointed out during the questioning of Sisk, the investigator told him the tests showed he “lit up like a Christmas tree.”

The defense also questioned how a 14-year-old, who had not been read his rights could knowingly consent to such a test. Blakely conceded during his testimony that he did not tell Sisk he could refuse to take the test.

That same investigator, also testified that he drove with Sisk and Blakely to an area where Sisk told investigators they would find the alleged murder weapon.

Blakely also took the stand during the Friday hearing, testifying that Sisk supplied the motive for the killings on his own accord, without coercion. The defense pointed out that the investigator Johnny Morell had supplied the motive, suggesting Sisk’s father was mean to him and hit his mother. The defense also pointed out Blakely described to Sisk how the shooting occurred, that he shot his father first, mother second, and so on.

The video played at the trial of Sisk’s interview shows after a long series of questions, him saying “I did it,” but he provided few details of the killings.

During the hearing, the state only objected to one defense witness, a cognitive psychologist. The state said the psychologist is not qualified to speak to false confessions but the judge allowed the testimony to take place saying that he would rule if the psychologist could be treated as an expert witness at a later time.

The psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Neuschatz, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, testified studies have shown younger people are more likely to give false confessions under coercion and he said a number of coercive techniques were employed during the interview with Sisk, including leaking information to the suspect, pledging to help if he’ll only describe what he did and minimizing the problems he’ll face with a confession.

Prosecutors pointed those same tactics are legal and Neuschatz agreed they can also be effective at getting a guilty person to confess.

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The hearing concluded after a full day of testimony. The judge will review each side’s arguments and rule on if Sisk’s confession can be used in his April retrial at a later date.