A millionaire dealer was convicted on Monday to nine years in prison following his belief in the death of a man who helped him build tunnels during his home in Montgomery County, MD.
Daniel Beckwitt, 28, was convicted of second-degree assassination and the involuntary deaths of Askia Khafra, 21, who was killed in September 2017 when the fire settled in the tunnel where he was working.
Khafra sought funding for his own start-up company online when he met Beckwitt, who promised the younger man an investment in exchange to help dig the tunnels.
Beckwitt was known to be a conspiracy theorist who regularly attended computer hacking conventions. His lawyer, Robert Bonsib, admitted that his client is an "unusual individual". Bonsib claimed Beckwitt was trying to dig tunnels under his home to escape a nuclear attack from North Korea. Beckwitt did not acquire permits for his construction and even his neighbors were unsure of what to do about his unusual activity.
Court records show that Beckwitt blindfolded Khafra as he drove him to and from the workplace while leading him through the basement to the basement of the tunnel entrance. Firefighters found their charred body just steps from an exit when they entered the home. Studies showed that Khafra would probably escape if he had known where entrances and exits were. The house was also said to be stacked with floor-to-ceiling waste, and the cause of the fire was determined to have been a major electrical failure due to a "daisy chain" of extension cords, such as powered light tools, tools, and several ventilators all leading to the tunnels.
Bonsib claimed that his client was trying to save Khafra after he left the firewood, but the prosecution claims that Beckwitt did nothing to prevent death. Beckwitt was sentenced to 21