Suspect in stabbing has long history of drug use

COUPEVILLE — A Freeland man who allegedly stabbed his parents in a late night rage is mentally fit to stand trial and help his lawyer craft his defense, according to a state psychologist who reviewed the man’s mental health.

Sean Paul DeMerchant has been held in the Island County Jail since his arrest on Oct. 9, when sheriff’s deputies found him in his parents’ bedroom at their Bush Point Terrace home, hovering over their injured bodies and giving first aid.

Authorities later charged DeMerchant with two counts of first-degree assault, and DeMerchant entered a not-guilty plea at his arraignment.

A court-ordered examination of DeMerchant’s mental health conducted earlier this month has revealed disturbing facts about the accused assailant.

According to court documents, DeMerchant has been a drug user for most of his life and had used drugs the same day he allegedly stabbed his parents as an argument escalated in their Dolphin Drive home.

According to an outpatient mental health report, filed with Island County Superior Court on Dec. 9, DeMerchant appears to have a record of mental illness — he has been medicated for bipolar disorder — but also has a “significant history of substance abuse,” and admitted smoking methamphetamine drugs “two to three times a week.”

The report also said DeMerchant admitted using marijuana on a daily basis, including on the day of the attack.

In the past, DeMerchant told a state psychologist, he said he had tried cocaine and used LSD “when I could get my hands on it,” as well as Ecstasy, nitrous oxide gas and psychedelic mushrooms, and had also been prescribed pain-killers, anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers, according to the report.

DeMerchant also admitted “significant abuse of alcohol,” and said he drank to self-medicate. He also told the examiner that his last use of marijuana was “shortly before my arrest … about eight to nine hours before.”

An official from Western State Hospital evaluated DeMerchant on Nov. 28 at the Island County Jail, and DeMerchant’s attorney was present during the review.

According to the report, DeMerchant, 38, had been living at his parent’s home at the time of the attack.

A graduate of the University of Washington with a mathematics degree, and a master’s in mathematics from the University of Tennessee, the report noted that DeMerchant had not been diagnosed with mental illness while in college and had worked as a software engineer until he “burned out” in 2000 and was fired for depressive episodes. The report said he hadn’t worked since, and has lived on Whidbey Island for roughly a decade.

During the evaluation, the reviewer noted that DeMerchant had above average intelligence and understood the court system and how a trial would be conducted.

The doctor said DeMerchant should be returned to court so legal proceedings could continue, but also noted that DeMerchant still presents a moderate to high risk for future, serious dangerous behavior.

The evaluation also noted that DeMerchant had recently attempted suicide, and recommended that he be monitored during his time in custody.