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The Latest: Prosecutor cites 'extreme risk' in bunker fire

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The Latest on the trial of a wealthy stock trader charged with murder in the fire death of a man helping him build tunnels for a nuclear bunker beneath a Maryland home (all times local):

12:50 p.m.

A prosecutor says a wealthy stock trader engaged in “extreme risk-taking behaviour” before a fire broke out in his Maryland home and killed a man who was helping him dig tunnels for an underground nuclear bunker.

Montgomery County prosecutor Marybeth Ayres said 27-year-old Daniel Beckwitt didn’t cause the fire that killed Askia Khafra but created the conditions that prevented Khafra from escaping the house, which was filled with piles of garbage.

A lawyer for Beckwitt described him as a “very strange young man,” yet urged jurors to acquit him of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges over the deadly fire. In closing arguments for Beckwitt’s trial, defence attorney Robert Bonsib said the September 2017 death of the 21-year-old Khafra is a “mystery without an answer.”

Closing arguments are scheduled to resume after a lunch break. Jurors could begin deliberating later Tuesday.

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1:05 a.m.

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 defence 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. Defence attorney Robert Bonsib told jurors the fire was an accident, not a crime.

The Associated Press