Jury selected, opening statements given in Elkmont capital murder trial

The second trial for an Elkmont teen who is accused of murdering five of his family members started Monday.
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 9:15 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 at 7:23 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LIMESTONE Co., Ala. (WAFF) - The second trial for an Elkmont teen who is accused of murdering five of his family members started Monday with jury selection. Jury selection continued Tuesday morning and by 10 a.m. opening statements began.

Jury selection started Monday and continued into Tuesday after a large number of potential jurors had been narrowed down. One of the potential jurors, Theodore Leyden, was thrown in jail for five days for contempt of court.

Mason Sisk is the subject of the trial and is accused of murdering five of his family members in 2019 when he was 14 years old. Mason Sisk’s first trial was held in September 2022, but a mistrial was called after the FBI was able to unlock Mary Sisk’s phone, finding more evidence.

The court heard opening statements and heard from multiple witnesses Tuesday including family friends, teachers and the operator of Limestone County 911.

With the mistrial, both the prosecution and defense were able to further examine the new evidence. The FBI had begun attempting to unlock the phone in 2019 but was unable to.

Prior to a mistrial being declared in the previous trial, the prosecution had presented the majority of its case.

After multiple rounds of questioning Monday, the striking process of potential jurors began Tuesday for the second trial of Mason Sisk. Just before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, the jury selection was completed as 10 men and four women were selected. Two alternates were also chosen.

Opening statements:

During the prosecution’s opening statements, the prosecutor stated Mason Sisk was fed up and that is why he killed his family. The prosecution explains how Mason Sisk told a teacher who checked in on Mason Sisk that he would not be at school next week. The prosecution also explained that the Sisk family was visiting family in on Labor Day and that family then reported a missing pistol after the Sisks left.

The prosecution also claims Mason Sisk called his girlfriend multiple times before calling 911.

The defense then presented its opening statement claiming Mason Sisk was the lone survivor after the rest of his family was murdered. The defense argued that Mason Sisk’s father, John Sisk, owed a debt for drugs but claim that detail was not investigated.

The defense also stated that Mason Sisk admitted to the crime after two hours of interrogation by saying, “I don’t know why a 14-year-old does what a 14-year-old does,” to a question the sheriff asked.

The attorney for the defense team argued that there was no hesitation with headshots in several bedrooms and believes it would be too severe for a 14-year-old. He claims Mason Sisk’s uncle Lance was not interviewed and neither was his motorcycle gang.

After claiming there was no evidence of Mason Sisk firing the gun, the defense wrapped up its opening argument.

First witness, Lisa Watkins, Elkmont teacher:

After the opening statements were completed, the prosecution called Elkmont teacher Lisa Watkins to the stand. Watkins knew Mason Sisk through his stepmom, Mary Sisk. Watkins was a special education teacher at Elkmont.

Watkins said she talked to Mason Sisk at the school and Mason Sisk said he would not be back at school the next week. Watkins said this worried her because he looked very lost and had a concerned demeanor. Watkins then passed the information along to an in-school suspension leader who was friends with Mary Sisk. Watkins believed the person she told would inform Mary Sisk.

Watkins told the court she had seen Mary and John Sisk interact before and said she heard John say something offensive to Mary and never interacted with him again because she believed he was disrespectful.

When the defense team began questioning Watkins, she said she spoke with Mason Sisk the Wednesday before Labor Day and that their interaction lasted between 10 and 15 minutes.

The defense attorney, Michael Sizemore, then claimed that Watkins did not interact with Mason Sisk for years so she would not know his general demeanor, Watkins responded by saying that the defense attorney is correct but that something drew her to him. Sizemore asked Watkins if she asked Mason Sisk where he was going next week and she said she did not.

When Sizemore asked Watkins if she had told a counselor about the interaction between her and Mason Sisk, she told the court that she contacted the principal and the in-school suspension leader, Ms. Boone. Watkins said they did not make a plan but she was sure Boone would tell Mary Sisk because they were friends.

Watkins told the court she noticed a change in the way John and Mary Sisk interacted following a baby shower. Watkins says John said nasty things to Mary at the baby shower. She said he seemed verbally abusive and controlling at the baby shower.

According to Watkins, Mason Sisk was getting along with the other children at the baby shower. The defense did not have any further questions for Watkins after that.

Second witness, Matt Paddie, Sisk family friend:

After Watkins’ questioning was finished, the state called Matt Paddie to the stand. Matt Paddie otherwise known as “Uncle Gator” was a family friend of the Sisk family. Matt Paddie had hosted the Sisk family at his home in Florida the weekend before the murders.

Matt Paddie said John Sisk was concerned because his wife found drugs in the home. Matt Paddie told the court that his gun disappeared before the Sisk family left for their home in Athens. He said the gun was loaded and in a holster next to his bed at all times. According to Pratti, the magazine was not fully loaded. He also said everyone searched their bags before leaving the home in Florida.

The Sisk family left according to their plan and John Sisk told Matt Paddie he would inform him if the gun was found. Matt Paddie said he told police the gun disappeared after he heard about the shooting in Elkmont.

The prosecution then showed Matt Paddie pictures of the murder weapon and Matt Paddie confirms it is his gun and that he has not had the gun since it disappeared in 2019.

The defense then began its cross-examination of Matt Paddie, the defense team asked him about motorcycle clubs. They went into specifics about how the clubs interact and how important it was for a member to wear a club patch. Matt Paddie clarified he was never a member of the “Iron Coffins” but said John Sisk was.

Matt Paddie was asked about John Sisk’s transition to the Saints motorcycle club. The defense then asked if Lance Sisk could possibly be the father of the youngest child. The judge then ruled that the conversation could not be in front of the jury.

Matt Paddie told the court that Mason Sisk was always a good kid and never stole anything from him. Matt Paddie said John Sisk was fighting a felony charge at the time and he should have gotten rid of the guns before the weekend. He also added that Mary Sisk had removed the drugs from her house prior to the weekend.

Third witness, Angela Paddie, Sisk family friend:

Angela Paddie, the wife of Matt Paddie, took the stand and told the court that she noticed Mason Sisk go into the bathroom with a backpack while they were searching for the missing gun.

Angela Paddie said she woke up in the middle of the night worried about the situation and later discovered the family had been shot. She said she immediately contacted deputies with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office

Fourth witness, Brandon Wallace, Limestone County 911 Center:

The fourth witness to take the stand Tuesday was Brandon Wallace who runs the Limestone County 911 Center. Wallace testified about the calls received from Mason Sisk on the night of the murders.

The audio of Mason Sisk’s call to 911 was played for the court, in the recording, Mason Sisk is clearly freaking out and stuttering, then explains how he was downstairs when everything happened.

Mason Sisk keeps his composure throughout the call but breaks down when deputies arrive on the scene to ask him questions. The call then ends after deputies arrive.

No more questions were asked of Wallace and he left the stand.

Fifth witness, Rhett McNatt, Limestone County Sheriff’s Office deputy:

Rhett McNatt was called to the stand and was one of the first people to arrive at the scene of the shooting and was the first to enter the home.

The prosecution showed the graphic body camera footage from McNatt. In the footage, the court could see McNatt and others charge into the home and immediately find bodies in separate rooms. They also found that two of the five people were still alive.

Deputies then say in the footage that something is not right about Mason Sisk, they say he seems too calm to have seen the crime and seen his family killed.

The prosecution also asked McNatt if there was any sign of forced entry or if there was anything indicating a vehicle fled the scene fast. McNatt said no to both.

The defense team then began questioning McNatt. They asked about his accuracy while at the training academy and argued Mason Sisk did not have enough experience to shoot. The defense also asked about problems with Smith and Wesson handguns before wrapping up for the day.

Click Here to Subscribe on YouTube: Watch the latest WAFF 48 news, sports & weather videos on our YouTube channel!