ROCKVILLE, Md. - A Montgomery County judge sentenced a Bethesda man to five years in prison on Tuesday for the death of a 21-year-old he hired to dig out tunnels under his home for a nuclear bunker.
Daniel Beckwitt, a wealthy stock trader who lived in Bethesda, was sentenced to five years in prison followed by five years of supervised probation today here at the Maryland County Circuit Court.
In April 2019, Beckwitt was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the death of then 21-year-old Askia Khafra, a man Beckwitt employed to dig out tunnels under his home for a nuclear bunker. Khafra died in a fire while working on the tunnels beneath Beckwitt’s house.
Khafra was sleeping and living in the tunnels while he worked for Beckwitt. He ate his meals there and used the restroom in a bucket that he would then give to Beckwitt to empty above ground.
When firefighters found Khafra’s body, he was naked and charred beyond recognition. Beckwitt was a hoarder and prosecutors said during trial that the sheer volume of hoarded items, trash in the house blocked Khafra from being able to escape the fire.
Beckwitt was originally convicted back in 2019 for two charges: second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals tossed the murder conviction but kept the involuntary manslaughter conviction.
Maryland’s highest court agreed with that decision, ordering Beckwitt to be resentenced only on the involuntary manslaughter charge, which is what happened on Tuesday.
In Maryland, involuntary manslaughter is considered a non-violent crime, which means that Beckwitt becomes eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence.
He has already served that time, which means he is eligible for parole as of Tuesday.