Wrongful Death Suit Against Bethesda Man To Proceed

Daniel Beckwitt facing civil case, fate of boarded up house in limbo

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Daniel Beckwitt

VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a man killed in a Bethesda house fire will proceed after the death of one of the defendants, a county Circuit Court judge ruled Friday.

Askia Khafra was killed in a September 2017 fire at a Danbury Road home owned by David Beckwitt, the father of Daniel Beckwitt.

Daniel Beckwitt, a 27-year-old millionaire stock trader who was living in the house, had hired Khafra to help dig tunnels for a bunker, fearing a North Korean attack, according to files in the case.

Daniel Beckwitt was indicted in May on second-degree murder charges and is free on bond.

Dia and Claudia Khafra filed their lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court in September against both Beckwitts and it was disclosed in court Friday that David Beckwitt died in October before he had received legal papers about the wrongful death case.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Jill Cummins said since the son was served with court papers for the Khafra’s civil lawsuit, the case will not be dismissed.

The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $75,000, which the Khafras intend to donate to charity, said Donna McBride, the Khafra’s attorney.

Daniel Beckwitt’s attorney, Walter Gillcrist, said his client is working to establish a family estate following his father’s death, which would be covered by an insurance policy, and could come into play in the civil case.

Gillcrist said it’s unclear if he will represent Beckwitt and the estate. In Friday’s hearing, Gillcrist said his client is unlikely to participate in the case and will exercise his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination so he can focus on his murder trial, set for April 8.

Gillcrist declined further comment.

The wrongful death trial is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 4.

Prosecutors at an indictment hearing in May outlined a bizarre plot in which they claimed Beckwitt had deceived Khafra into digging tunnels under the house, which has been closed and fenced off.

Montgomery County wants to tear down the house but the plans are on hold until after the springtime murder trial.

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