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Man accused in attack was evaluated, released on day of stabbing

A Freeland man who allegedly stabbed his parents had been evaluated earlier in the day at Whidbey General Hospital and released just hours before he attacked his mother and father in their Bush Point Terrace home Sunday.

Sean Paul DeMerchant has been charged with two counts of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and remains in Island County jail in Coupeville on a $500,000 bond. Authorities claim DeMerchant stabbed his mother and father, Norma and Paul DeMerchant, in the back on the night of Oct. 9, and also cut his mother’s neck. Deputies responding to a 911 call from Norma DeMerchant arrested the assailant in the bedroom of his parent’s home on Dolphin Drive, where both victims still lay bleeding in their bed from the attack.

Deputies and other law enforcement officers also had repeated contacts with Sean DeMerchant on the day of the attack, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown acknowledged Friday.

DeMerchant’s father called 911 on the day of the stabbing to say that his son was becoming “very disruptive,” Brown said.

Deputies went to the DeMerchant home, Brown said, and became immediately concerned about DeMerchant’s mental health after he told them he had consumed a large quantity of prescription medication and alcohol in an apparent suicide attempt.

With the parents’ consent, deputies had DeMerchant, 38, taken by ambulance to Whidbey General Hospital for an evaluation and treatment.

Brown said DeMerchant was released from the Coupeville hospital later in the evening, but became disruptive and hospital workers apparently called the Coupeville Marshal’s Office. A deputy marshal arrived and convinced DeMerchant to wait outside and not disrupt hospital operations.

Brown said DeMerchant left on foot before his parents came to pick him up, then made a 911 phone call from a pay phone outside a Coupeville store and started complaining about how he was treated while he was waiting at the hospital. A deputy town marshal and a sheriff’s deputy responded, and stayed in the area until DeMerchant’s parents came to get him.

The DeMerchants were attacked around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Brown said the investigation is continuing and is not finished, largely due to the heavy workload on detectives following the double murder in Oak Harbor earlier this month where a North End man allegedly killed his two grandfathers.

Brown said he couldn’t comment on whether DeMerchant should have been released from the hospital. Deputies did what they could, he said.

“I don’t know that I can walk into a hospital and tell someone to discharge a patient,” he said.

“We put him in the hands of someone who could help him,” Brown said.

Paul DeMerchant, 73, was treated at Whidbey General Hospital for a knife wound to the back and released Monday.

Norma DeMerchant, 66, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle late Sunday. She was released earlier this week.

If convicted of both counts, Sean DeMerchant is facing a prison sentence between 21 and 27 years, according to Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks.

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