Trial winds down for former BP engineer

by Michael Kunzelman
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BP oil logo and Deepwater Horizon oil rig. (AP Photo)

BP oil logo and Deepwater Horizon oil rig. (AP Photo)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal jury will determine whether a former BP engineer broke the law or harmlessly swiped his finger across a cellular phone when he deleted hundreds of text messages in the aftermath of the company’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jurors heard closing arguments Monday in the trial of Kurt Mix. He didn’t testify at his trial on two counts of obstruction of justice. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A Justice Department prosecutor said Mix deliberately deleted messages to and from a supervisor and a BP contractor to stymie a grand jury’s spill investigation.

But a defense lawyer told jurors that the charges against Mix are “unfair and baseless” and the product of investigators’ “rank incompetence.”

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