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Bail set at $500,000 for Freeland man accused of knife attack on parents

Sean DeMerchant enters a courtroom Tuesday in his first appearance since his arrest for allegedly stabbing his parents in their home near Freeland Sunday.  - Brian Kelly / The Record
Sean DeMerchant enters a courtroom Tuesday in his first appearance since his arrest for allegedly stabbing his parents in their home near Freeland Sunday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

COUPEVILLE — A Freeland man accused of stabbing his mother and father after breaking into their Bush Point Terrace-area home was ordered held in the Island County jail on $500,000 bond Tuesday.

Sean P. DeMerchant, 38, was arrested by Island County deputies late Sunday night after dispatchers received a 911 call from his mother, Norma DeMerchant, who said her son had a knife and was trying to break in.

Her call became more frantic after her son entered the home and stabbed the woman and her husband.

Norma DeMerchant told a dispatcher just after the stabbing that they were bleeding and needed help, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed this week in Island County Court.

DeMerchant, 66, and her husband, Paul W. DeMerchant, 73, were both taken to area hospitals after the attack.

Paul DeMerchant, the father of the alleged assailant, was taken to Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville, and was released late Monday morning. His wife was taken by a medical airlift to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she remains in serious condition.

Sean DeMerchant made a preliminary appearance in Island County Superior Court Tuesday, and is facing two possible counts of first-degree domestic violence assault.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Carman said DeMerchant had been violent in the past and would be violent again, and pointed to DeMerchant’s prior conviction in 2008 for fourth-degree assault.

He also recalled what DeMerchant had told deputies when they arrived at the crime scene Sunday, that he became upset with his parents “and things got out of control.”

Carman asked Judge Vickie Churchill to keep DeMerchant in jail without bail.

“The idea that Mr. DeMerchant would lose control to the point where he would stab his parents — including inflicting a deep laceration on the neck of his mother — certainly shows a propensity for violence,” Carman said.

“In fact, this incident appeared to be fairly unprovoked,” he said.

Churchill said there was not a history of violence, however, so she would not order DeMerchant held without bail.

“I will impose $500,000 bail. I find that there is substantial, likely danger that he would commit a violent crime,” Churchill said.

DeMerchant had been expected to appear in court Monday, but that appearance was delayed after he was taken to Whidbey General Hospital after his arrest for observation for what Sheriff Mark Brown called “acute intoxication.”

DeMerchant’s arraignment on assault charges is expected at a later date.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, county deputies arrived at the DeMerchant home on Dolphin Drive north of Freeland just after 10:30 p.m. Oct. 9 and an officer could hear someone saying “Help us!” as he walked across the deck of the home.

Two deputies entered the home and found Norma and Paul DeMerchant in their bedroom, in bed but both with knife wounds across their lower backs. Norma DeMerchant also had a deep laceration on her neck.

Police said Sean DeMerchant was partly on the bed and it looked like he was trying to tend to the couple’s wounds.

He allegedly then told deputies that he had attacked his mother and father, and said he had put the knife used in the assault back in the kitchen.

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