BETHESDA, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - New information has surfaced in the case of a man found dead inside a house in Bethesda with secret tunnels.
Court files are now revealing odd details in what Montgomery County prosecutors are calling “Depraved Heart Murder.”
Daniel Beckwitt – the owner of the house – faces a trial in April for his alleged role in the death of Askia Khafra on Danbury Road.
Firefighters discovered Khafra’s body in the basement of Beckwitt’s home, where an extensive network of tunnels and bunkers were located.
When firefighters discovered the body, he was naked, lying on his back on the top of a welding machine with his feet on a rolling chair.
He appeared to have been badly burned.
Court documents reveal that Beckwitt told investigators that Khafra was still alive when he first saw smoke coming from the basement.
Beckwitt told detectives that he called out to Khafra, who responded “Yo dude.” And that was the last thing he heard.
Beckwitt says he ran outside to get help, and when he tried to get back inside the basement the smoke and flames drove him back.
The medical examiner ruled that Khafra died from thermal injuries smoke inhalation.
Khafra had been hired to help Beckwitt dig the tunnels.
Court documents also go into more detail about the tunnels and what Beckwitt told police.
A search warrant affidavit says Beckwitt told them he had a bunker underneath the house.
A hole drops down 20 feet, and the tunnels are approximately 200 feet in length. There is a bed, a television, a shower, and enough food to last four months.
Police initially thought the home was being used to make pipe bombs, and he listed an assortment of chemicals found inside the house, along with flame retardant and resistant suits.
Beckwitt has not been charged with making explosive devices, however.
Prosecutors believe Beckwitt put Khafra in extreme danger due to hoarding conditions in the house, which would have made it hard to escape, and a daisy chain of extension cords that created a substantial risk of fire.
Next week, the will be a motions hearing in the case, in which Beckwitt’s attorney will ask that certain photographs and information in the search warrant be excluded from the trial.
Defense attorney Robert Bonsib wrote in a motion, “The (search warrant) affidavit presents a false scenario, omits material facts known to (the police) and seeks to present a picture of a fire that was deliberately set by someone who, it falsely alleged, provided inconsistent information regarding the cause of the fire.”