Daniel Beckwittalready has spent nearly three years in prison and is statutorily eligible to parole, having served more than a quarter his sentence. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Schweitzer sentenced Beckwitt to five years of probation and 250 hours community service, noting that he could be released shortly.
She said, "I hope that this is your chance to give back to the community." "I hope that you will do all you can to use your intelligence to help others."
Beckwitt, 30 years old, was initially sentenced to nine year imprisonment in 2019. He was convicted of second-degree murder with "depraved hearts" and involuntary manslaughter for the September 2017 deaths of Askia Khafra.
A state appeals court rescinded Beckwitt's January 2021 murder conviction, stating that his conduct was not "extreme disregard for human life reasonably likely cause death". Maryland's Court of Special Appeals also affirmed his conviction for involuntary murder.
Maryland's highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals, affirmed Beckwitt’s conviction for involuntary murder. The court ruled that Beckwitt failed to provide Khafra a reasonably safe place to work in the tunnels. This was gross negligence.
Beckwitt was sentenced to prison in April 2019. Although he didn't testify during his trial, he did apologize to Khafra's family before Schweitzer sentenced them in June 2019. Beckwitt described Khafra in Tuesday's testimony as a friend and said that he still grieves Khafra "to this day".
He said, "I don't think of all the great things Askia should do every day." "The world needs more people such as Askia Khafra than fewer."
Askia's father Dia Khafra expressed frustration at Beckwitt’s "light” sentence and stated that he feels like his family has been "stabbed with a knife of victimization all again."
Before Beckwitt handed down her new sentence, he said that he felt like a victim and that all that mattered was rules, procedures, legalese, not the fact that my son, dear son, had been deliberately ended."
Dia Khafra saidhe had only met Beckwitt once when he dropped his son off at their home. He appeared shy.
Khafra, an elder, said that he always feared something would happen to him.
After a fire broke out in Beckwitt’s Bethesda home, Maryland, firefighters found Khara's naked and charred body in a basement.
Prosecutors claimed that Beckwitt was prevented from fleeing because of the conditions in his home. Marybeth Ayres, Montgomery County prosecutor, stated that Beckwitt had sacrificed safety to secrecy and set up "death traps" in the house.
Ayres stated Tuesday that the behavior was "grossly negligent" on many levels. It wasn't one thing.
Robert Bonsib, the defense attorney, told jurors Beckwitt shouted for help from his neighbors and took risks to save his friend.
Bonsib said to the judge that it was an accidental death.
Khafra met Beckwitt online. Beckwitt helped Beckwitt to dig the tunnel network by investing money in a company Khafra was trying launch. According to a prosecutor, Beckwitt was a computer hacker skilled in hacking and had paranoid fixations on North Korea's nuclear attack.
Prosecutors claim that Beckwitt went to great lengths to hide the project. By having Khafra wear "blackout glasses", he tried to fool Khafra into believing they were digging tunnels in Virginia, not Maryland. According to prosecutors, Beckwitt also used "spoofing" on the internet to appear to be digging in Virginia.
Khafra spent days in the tunnels, sleeping and eating there as well as urinating into a bucket Beckwitt brought down to him. There were lights, air circulation and heaters in the tunnels.
Through a crack in the basement floor, a shaft led to 20-foot drop into tunnels that extended out for approximately 200 feet (60 m) in length. Investigators determined that the basement's electrical outlet was defective and caused the fire.
She believes Beckwitt's intellectual arrogance misled him into believing that everything would turn out as he had planned. She sympathized with Khafra's parents and said that she understands why his father is frustrated.
Schweitzer stated, "Please don't equate the number (in prison) with the value of the victim’s life in this instance." It just cannot happen.
Bonsib, the defense lawyer, stated that he expected Beckwitt's release from prison in a few months.