A millionaire trader was sentenced on Monday to nine years in prison following his conviction for the death of a man who helped him build tunnels under his Montgomery County, Maryland home.
Daniel Beckwitt, 28, was convicted of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter by Askia Khafra, 21, killed in September 2017 when the fire ravaged the tunnel in which he was working.
Khafra was looking for funds for his own online business when he met Beckwitt, who promised the young man an investment in exchange for help for tunnels digging.
Beckwitt was known to be a conspiracy theorist who regularly attended hacking conventions. His lawyer, Robert Bonsib, acknowledged that his client was an "unusual individual". Bonsib claimed that Beckwitt was trying to dig tunnels under his home to escape a nuclear attack from North Korea. Beckwitt did not get a permit for its construction and even his neighbors did not know what to do with his unusual activity.
The court records show that Beckwitt blindfolded Khafra when he drove him to the workplace and also drove him from his home in the basement to the entrance to the tunnel. The firefighters found his charred body a few steps from an exit when they entered the house. Investigations revealed that Khafra would probably have escaped knowing where the entrances and exits were. The house was also cluttered with soil-to-ceiling waste. The fire would have been caused by a massive power outage caused by a "chain of daisies" of extension lights supplying lights, tools and several ventilation devices. all leading to the tunnels.
Bonsib claimed that his client had tried to save Khafra after leaving the burning house, but the prosecution claims that Beckwitt did nothing to prevent the death. Beckwitt was sentenced to 21 years, with a suspension of all but nine.