Freeland man who stabbed his parents pleads guilty

Sean DeMerchant pleaded guilty to assault charges in Island County Superior Court.

A Freeland man who stabbed both of his parents at their Bush Point Terrace home last October has entered guilty pleas in connection with a plea bargain.

Sean DeMerchant pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court July 30 to attempted assault in the second degree and assault in the second degree. Both charges are domestic-violence related.

DeMerchant is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 24. Under the plea bargain, prosecution and defense will recommend a sentence of eight years and eight months in prison.

The judge lifted a no-contact order so that DeMerchant’s parents can go see him in prison. The ordered had been modified earlier to allow them to correspond in writing.

The Department of Corrections will conduct a pre-sentence investigation before sentencing, which will also include a sentence recommendation. Such investigations are unusual in cases that don’t involve sexual assault, but was ordered in this case because of DeMerchant’s history of mental health issues.

A forensic evaluation by a psychologist at Western State Hospital diagnosed DeMerchant with bipolar disorder and substance abuse problems, possibly with schizoaffective disorder. The psychologist concluded, however, that he was competent to stand trial.

On the day of the assaults, DeMerchant was evaluated at Whidbey General Hospital for mental health problems and treatment for an apparent suicide attempt. He was released that evening, but became disruptive enough that hospital employees called the police.

DeMerchant’s parents picked him up in Coupeville and brought him home. He attacked them at about 10:30 that night, which was Oct. 9.

DeMerchant stabbed his mother and father in the back and cut his mother’s neck. Deputies responding to a 911 call found the two victims lying in bed bleeding and DeMerchant nearby.

Paul DeMerchant, who was 73 years old at the time, was treated at Whidbey General Hospital. Norma DeMerchant, 66, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center for treatment.

Both victims are doing well, according to the prosecutor’s office.