FILE – In this Sept. 5, 2018 file photo, Slide, Khafra, father of Askia Khafra, has a photo of his son in his Silver Springs, Md., home. Jurors are set to hear closing arguments Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in the study of Daniel Beckwitt, a 27-year-old millionaire. Beckwitt is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the September 2017, the death of the 21-year-old Askia Khafra. A fire broke out and killed Khafra, who was helping Beckwitt dig tunnels for an underground nuclear bunker. (AP Photo/Michael Kunzelman, File)
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A Maryland jury will soon be asked to decide whether or not it was a crime or an accident at a fire, killed a man on the help of a millionaire digging a network of tunnels for an underground nuclear bunker.
Jurors are set to hear closing arguments Tuesday in the case against the 27-year-old Daniel Beckwitt. The rich stock trader is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the September 2017, the death of the 21-year-old Askia Khafra.
Beckwitt not testify for prosecutors and defense lawyers finished with the presentation of the witnesses of last Wednesday.
The fire broke out when Khafra was the digging of tunnels under Beckwitt home in Bethesda, a suburb of Washington.
Beckwitt went to extensive lengths to keep the project a secret. He tried to seduce Khafra in thinking they were digging the tunnels in Virginia instead of Maryland by him not blackout glasses” before him on a long ride. Beckwitt also used internet “spoofing” to make it appear they were digging in Virginia.
During the trial’s opening statements, Montgomery County prosecutor Marybeth Ayres said Beckwitt sacrificed for security, secrecy and a “drop dead” in the house of the family, with mounds of waste block Khafra escape.
Hours before the fire broke out in the basement, Khafra sms Beckwitt to warn him of the smoke there is smoke in the tunnel. Ayres said Beckwitt not respond for more than six hours before telling Khfra that there was a “major electrical fault.” Instead of getting Khafra out of the tunnels, Beckwitt told him that he “just switched over to a different circuit,” said the prosecutor.
Lawyer Robert Bonsib told jurors the fire was an accident, not a crime. Bonsib said Beckwitt shouted for help from neighbours after the fire broke out and risked his own safety in a failed attempt to rescue his friend from the fire.
Khafra met Beckwitt online. Beckwitt had invested in a company Khafra tried to launch as he helped Beckwitt digging of the tunnels.
Firefighters find Khafra the charred, naked corpse in the basement when they are in the house. A hole in the concrete basement floor led to a shaft that fell from 20 feet (6 m) in the tunnels which branched out approximately 200 feet (60 m) in length.
Khafra worked in the tunnels, day time, eat, and sleep there. They had lights, an air circulation system and a heater.
Bonsib said Khafra was a willing participant in the project. He showed jury members a “selfie” pictures of that Khafra posted on social media, showing him in the tunnels.
The prosecutors have described Beckwitt as a skilled computer hacker, who had a paranoid fixation on a possible nuclear attack from North Korea. In 2016, Beckwitt spoke at a hacker convention with the alias “3AlarmLampscooter” and wearing a fire resistant suit and visor that covered his face. Another officer of justice, Doug Wink, said Beckwitt was, he taught his audience how to make thermite bombs to destroy the computer data “to get away with hacking.”