LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Limestone County Circuit Judge Chadwick Wise has ordered a mistrial in the Mason Sisk capital murder trial.
Last Thursday, defense attorneys for Mason Sisk filed a motion for a mistrial, arguing prosecutors didn’t provide access to Mason’s father’s cell phone, claiming the possibility of information that could corroborate the teen’s defense.
On Friday, Wise initially denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial.
Sisk is accused of killing his parents and three siblings in 2019.
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.
Monday’s proceedings began with the defense continuing its case, and reviewing a text message thread between Mason’s mother Mary and Mason that dates back to 2018. The defense claimed it demonstrates a loving relationship between the two. The defense said they received text records from Mary’s phone on Sunday and it is exculpatory information.
In response, Wise gave the state an hour to review the message records. The state said there’s nothing exculpatory in the text messages and there’s more inculpatory evidence. Shortly after reviewing the text messages, the judge ordered a mistrial.
Wise stated the cell phone of Mary Sisk had been with the FBI for approximately three years and was unable to be accessed during that time.
Limestone County District Attorney Brian C.T. Jones said they’ve been told there are 236 million code combinations and it usually takes the FBI between two and 26 years to crack the entry code.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation had both phones the entire time this case has been pending and Wednesday night the agent was able to crack the phone of Mary Sisk. They did a data dump,” Jones explained.
In declaring the mistrial, Wise said the phone was accessed last week, but there hasn’t been enough time for the defense to review the files.
“I just don’t think there’s anything more than this that I could do that would be fair.”Limestone County Circuit Judge Chadwick Wise
“We don’t know what is and is not there. That is what is particularly problematic and why the mistrial was ordered. Because there could have been stuff in there that helped us, or there might have been stuff in there that didn’t,” Sisk’s defense attorney Shay Golden said after the mistrial was announced. “As the defense, we’re entitled to investigate the allegations against our client. We are required to do so and in this situation, we didn’t have that opportunity.”
Sisk’s attorney said he appreciates the judge’s ruling.
“He understands, we’ve talked to him, and explained it to him,” Golden said. “He was very thankful that the judge made the decision that he made. He understands that this is not going to get him out of jail today, and that we will still have to go back and litigate this matter further, potentially. And he is very patient in awaiting what our next step is, and educated on what all we are considering.”
Jones said a mistrial is disappointing but it is proof the system works.
“Evidence came up, whether it’s for him or for us. It came up Wednesday night and now this defendant has been provided an opportunity to have additional time to work on this… I would hate to have somebody we tried a case, we get a defendant convicted, then all of a sudden they crack open the phone and then there’s something on that phone that would exonerate them.”
Jones said the prosecution will be ready to try Sisk again.
“It is disappointing, I’m going to have to box this file up, my family is going to have to live with this case again,” Jones said. “But the thing about it is, my number one thing is, at the end of the day, every defendant in this county needs to have a fair trial. And while it is very disappointing, it’s irritating as all get out, but this will ensure Mason Sisk will get a fair trial when it comes back up again.”
John Sisk’s phone is also being returned from the FBI and the defense is expected to hire an expert to try and crack it.
Court records show that Sisk is scheduled for a pretrial conference on January 31, 2023, with a jury trial set for February 13 at 9 a.m.