ROCVKILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - The prosecution rested its case in the "Depraved Heart" murder trial of Daniel Beckwitt Wednesday in Rockville. The prosecution's case is centered on the theory that Beckwitt valued secrecy over safety which ultimately led to the death of Askia Khafra.
On the same day, the defense began its case with two witnesses who had a different view.
A few months before Khafra agreed to help Beckwitt dig the extensive tunnels under his home on Danbury Road, another man had been hired to do the same work.
Doug Hart told the jury he liked working in the tunnels. He said he had a bed and a refrigerator and didn't feel unsafe. In fact, Hart told the jury he had no trouble getting around the cluttered basement, a place where Khafra was found dead after the fire and prosecutors have called a "death trap."
Another witness, Matthias Machner — a neighbor who ran to help when he saw the fire break out — told the court that the hoarding conditions shown in photos to the jury do not depict the same conditions he saw when he tried to put the flames out with a fire extinguisher. He said the clutter by the door was not there, which supports the defenses’ position that the exits were not all blocked.
Machner also told the court that Beckwitt was agitated and emotional outside the house, saying he was in distress.
Beckwitt is accused of creating dangerous conditions inside the house and prosecutors say he is responsible for Khafra's death.
It is unclear of Beckwitt will take the stand. The defense will continue its case Thursday.