LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — 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.
Mason Sisk was just 14 years old that night, yet investigators say he eventually confessed to shooting them. Those statements would eventually become a point of contention for both Sisk’s legal team and the prosecution.
Here’s a timeline of the events from that night up until Sisk’s capital murder trial began on September 12, 2022.
On a quiet Tuesday night in Elkmont, around 10 p.m., 14-year-old Mason Sisk was running away from the house where he, his three younger siblings, stepmom and father lived.
He would tell authorities that he was in the basement of the house when he heard gunshots and ran out the door. After pointing out some discrepancies in his story, investigators with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office said Sisk confessed to shooting his entire family.
Deputies stated they believed the teen used a 9 mm handgun in the shooting and tossed it before calling 911. They said the gun was recovered from the side of a nearby road Tuesday morning after the teen told investigators where he had thrown it. It was not clear to who the apparent murder weapon belonged.
Sisk’s Probationary Record
Sisk’s probationary report from the Tennessee Valley Juvenile Detention Center in Tuscumbia states he did not have a prior delinquency record. He was written up twice while there and received several warnings or reminders for unacceptable behavior, which the report states were primarily for talking without permission.
Sisk appeared to be a normal 14-year-old both mentally and physically, according to the probation officer’s report. He followed directions, did his schoolwork and interacted well with others, it states. He also received honor resident status twice, which granted him the highest level of privileges.
Officials said Sisk was given a mental evaluation, and the court found there was no indication he was mentally impaired.
The probation officer who wrote the report did recommend transferring Sisk’s case over to the adult court system, due to the severity of the crimes.
In 2020, Sisk was formally charged as an adult in the murders of his five family members.
On January 27, 2021, court documents were filed stating that the then-16-year-old was indicted on capital murder charges.
Shortly before the indictment was handed down, Sisk’s defense attorney had filed a motion citing the teen’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.
A Trial Is Set
November 1, 2021, was announced as the official trial date in April of the same year, according to Sisk’s attorney.
Just a few months later, though, Limestone County Circuit Court Judge Robert Baker would push that date back to February 28, 2022, since the current judge on the case would be retiring around the same time of the trial.
A plea date was scheduled to be held ahead of that trial on February 9.
Yet the trial would be delayed one more time at a February hearing, with a new date set for September 12, 2022.
During that hearing, the court conferred with attorneys in sometimes-whispered tones. Though it wasn’t clear what was discussed, the topic of mental competence to stand trial was one of the subjects.
In a March 2022 court filing, Sisk requested new counsel due to the fact that his current defense was running for District Attorney.
Court documents show Sisk has “expressed misgivings” about Lucas Beaty’s political campaign to become Limestone County District Attorney. Beaty filed a motion to withdraw Tuesday. The Limestone County District Attorney’s office is prosecuting Sisk.
Beaty’s motion says Sisk asked Beaty to withdraw from his case and he requested a different attorney to work with Sizemore. “Given the severity of the case, the undersigned feels like the Defendant should have nothing but complete confidence and trust in his attorneys,” the filing argues.
Shortly after the request was filed, court records would show that J. Shay Golden was officially appointed to represent the teen moving forward.
With his new attorney in place, Sisk would be allowed to visit the scene of the crime in Elkmont.
Peanut Butter… & coffee
Some of Sisk’s behaviors were detailed in court filings, including the attempted poisoning of his stepmother with peanut butter.
The court records showed malicious acts that led to the murders of five of his family members and revealed new information about Mason’s behavior at home. District attorneys say Mason knowingly put peanut butter in his stepmother’s coffee despite her severe allergy to peanuts.
The discovery filing also alleges Mason threatened his father and stepmother and was forceful with his siblings at home. It also stated that he had “anger control” issues with his brother.
Prosecutors say Mason stole two rings from his stepmother and gave them away and stole a gun from his grandmother’s house.
Suppress the confession?
In early August 2022, Sisk’s defense filed a motion to throw out his confession. They argued that on the night of the murders, 14-year-old Sisk was questioned by multiple Limestone County Sheriff’s deputies without being read his Miranda Rights or officials attempting to contact family and DHR.
The defense said Sisk was detained by law enforcement for two hours at the scene before being taken to the sheriff’s office.
The state argued that at the time Sisk was not in custody when he was placed in handcuffs and put into a patrol car. They also claim he was not interrogated or pressured by law enforcement to give a confession at the sheriff’s office. Law enforcement witnesses also testified Sisk was free to leave while at the scene.
On September 8, a Limestone County judge ruled Sisk’s statements would be allowed in the murder trial. He also ruled to allow certain medical reports and coroner’s reports into trial after the defense said those records may have been withheld from them for an extended period of time.