Bethesda man sentenced for murder of man hired for secret tunnels

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — A Bethesda man was sentenced Monday afternoon at the Montgomery County Circuit Courthouse for the murder of a man he hired to work on secret underground tunnels, who died after an explosion while working in the tunnels.

Daniel Beckwitt was sentenced to 21 years in prison, all but nine of those years are suspended, for the second-degree murder and manslaughter of Askia Khafra in 2017.

During his trial in April, Prosecutors said Beckwitt hired Khafra to help dig tunnels under his house on Danbury Court. It was noted that Khafra was blindfolded when he was brought in to work under the house. Beckwitt had a secret tunnel under the home when a fire broke out, killing Kharfa, who wasn’t able to escape. The tunnels, which are hundreds of feet below ground, were being built for about four years.

“The number of years (Beckwitt is sentenced) trivializes the loss experienced by those affected in this case,” Judge Margaret Schweitzer said at the sentencing.

Both Beckwitt and Schweitzer acknowledged the high possibility of an appeal.

During a press conference after the sentencing, Khafra’s best friend Brandon Cobb said he thinks “the most important thing to remember is we all loved him very much.”

“Whether or not (Beckwitt) got the max sentence or if he got off with a slight punishment, any of those things. The fact remains that myself, my friends, Askia’s family, they’re all affected by a very great loss,” said Cobb.

Askia Khafra’s father speaks after Beckwitt was sentenced and expresses he was not pleased with the sentencing.

This story will be updated.

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