Bethesda millionaire sentenced to 9 years in prison in deadly tunnel fire case

ROCKVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A Bethesda millionaire who was found guilty in connection with a deadly fire that burned in a network of tunnels beneath his home in 2017 has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

FOX 5's Paul Wagner reports that Daniel Beckwitt, who was convicted of second-degree depraved heart murder in the death of Askia Khafra, has been sentenced to 21 years with all but nine years suspended.

Before Beckwitt was sentenced, he spoke directly Khafra's parents, stating, "I am sorry for what happened but sorry doesn't begin to scratch the surface."

PHOTOS: Inside the tunnels at the Bethesda home where the deadly fire happened

He then said he would not beg forgiveness.

"Don't look at me as a monster but as an imperfect human being," Beckwitt said.

Prosecutors argued that Beckwitt was responsible for creating the hazardous conditions that led to the death of Khafra, 21, in 2017.

Over the two-week trial, the jury saw numerous photos showing extreme hoarding conditions inside the house on Danbury Road that stood over the bunkers and an extensive network of secret tunnels.

Prosecutors say the conditions were so bad that Khafra, who Beckwitt's was paying $150 per day to work on the tunnels, had no way out when the fire started in the basement of the home on Sept. 10, 2017. The conditions were created by a millionaire who valued secrecy over safety, prosecutors argued.

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But the defense says it was all an accident, and that Khafra had been working in the house and tunnels for months and knew his way around. They say that Khafra's death was an accident.

When Beckwitt first heard the jury foreman say the word "guilty" back in April, he let out a loud gasp and immediately began to weep. He buried his head in his hands, bowed his head to the defense table, and loudly hyperventilated for several minutes.

The county has condemned the property and filed a lawsuit in hopes of getting it done. Beckwitt has been fighting the suit and wants to keep the house. The lawsuit was put on hold until the outcome of the trial.