The man accused of the December 2012 murder of his father and setting a fire to hide the crime pleaded guilty to a lesser murder charge this week, according to the Public Defender’s Office. Baron Von Duke Vercruysse, 25, accepted a plea deal to second-degree murder and first-degree arson during a pretrial hearing Tuesday before Circuit Judge William Webb. Vercruysse had been charged with first-degree capital murder. Vercruysse will serve 45 years on the murder charge and 30 years – served concurrently – on the arson count. Had he gone to trial, Vercruysse faced at least life in prison on the first-degree capital murder charge. The death penalty could have also been an option but there was no motion filed by the State Attorney’s Office to pursue it, the Public Defender’s Office said.
Vercruysse and his father, Rene Dominique Vercruysse, 52, were arguing Dec. 31 at their home at 5617 Mosaic Drive, in the Holiday area, according to an arrest report Law enforcement officers and Pasco County Fire Rescue, responded at 10:20 p.m. to extinguish flames coming from the home. The men were arguing over the cleanliness of the younger Vercruysse’s room, an arrest report said. Baron Von Duke Vercruysse grabbed his father’s legs, forcing him to fall backward and hit his head, the report said. The fall caused a head injury and was just one of numerous signs of trauma, Pasco Sheriff’s Office deputies said. The son dragged his father’s body from the master bathroom to a spot near the elder Vercruysse’s bed inside the master bedroom, the report said. Baron Von Duke Vercruysse, according to authorities, then got a container of gasoline from the garage, poured fuel on his father’s body and lit it. Once it was determined blunt-force trauma to the head caused the father’s death, not the fire, detectives began searching for the son. He was arrested the following day in the Holiday Lakes Estates area.