Medford murder suspect's family swears he's innocent during arraignment

ASHLAND — The family of murder suspect Merlin Elmo Bound believes he was in the wrong place with the wrong person and that a former roommate was the killer.

Bound, 34, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on charges of murder, robbery and assault in the death of Frank Ronald Damiano, 62, also known as Tony Della Penna.

Damiano was found dead in his home in the Bear Creek Mobile Home Park on Corral Lane in Ashland at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 10, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Tim Barnack ordered Bound to be held without bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Oct. 23.

Malinda Bound said her husband fell in with a "terrifying" roommate whom she believes committed the murder. The roommate has since left the area, she said.

"He didn't do it and we have to get him out of there," she said of her husband.

Jackson County sheriff's investigators have not indicated that a second suspect has been identified in the case.

Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert, who has taken on the case, declined to comment on whether a second suspect may be on the loose.

"There is a lot of investigating left to do and leads that need to be followed," Heckert said.

Bound appeared at the arraignment via video. His voice cracked when he was asked whether he understood the charges against him and he appeared tired.

Barnack ordered that Bound not be eligible for any sort of early or work release. He was assigned a public defender and asked not to discuss his case with anyone.

Malinda Bound said the couple have four children. She described a nightmarish situation surrounding the family since Bound's arrest.

"People stare at us when we leave the house," she said. "My family has been torn apart. Police are coming in and out of our house all the time."

She said the family is willing to participate in the investigation.

She declined to identify the alleged second suspect, saying that it could damage police attempts to find him.

"He is a terrifying person," she said.

The relationship between Bound and Damiano is unclear, though Malinda Bound suggested the roommate knew the victim.

Malinda Bound said her husband did not suffer from any sort of drug or alcohol addiction that might lead him to commit such a crime.

"Nothing could ever make him do anything like this," she said.

Court records indicate Bound had no prior criminal history in Oregon.

Anyone with information pertaining to the case is asked to call the Jackson County Sheriff's Department tip line at 541-774-8333.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or

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