Jury to decide if death of man digging tunnels was a crime

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A Maryland jury will soon be asked to decide if it was a crime or an accident when a fire killed a man who was helping a millionaire dig tunnels for an underground nuclear bunker.

Jurors are set to hear closing arguments Tuesday in the trial of 27-year-old Daniel Beckwitt. He is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the September 2017 death of 21-year-old Askia Khafra.

Beckwitt did not testify before prosecutors and defense lawyers finished presenting evidence from witnesses Wednesday.

The fire erupted as Khafra was digging tunnels under Beckwitt’s Bethesda home, which was littered with piles of garbage.

During the trial’s opening statements, a prosecutor said Beckwitt sacrificed safety for secrecy. Defense attorney Robert Bonsib told jurors the fire was an accident, not a crime.

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