Ex-BP engineer wins new trial in Gulf of Mexico spill case

jueves 12 de junio de 2014 23:55 GYT

June 12 (Reuters) - An engineer convicted of obstructing justice in connection with the 2010 BP oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico won a new trial on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval of New Orleans tossed out his December conviction of Kurt Mix, a former BP Plc employee, and concluded that conduct by one of the 12 jurors meant he did not have an impartial jury.

"These extreme circumstances place the very sanctity of the impartial nature of Mix's jury at issue," Duval said.

Joan McPhee, a lawyer for Mix, said she was "deeply gratified" by the ruling.

A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Mix was convicted on one of two counts of obstruction for deleting hundreds of messages he exchanged with his supervisor and a contractor in the weeks after the spill.

He was part of a team that scrambled to plug the Macondo well and figure out how much oil was leaking in what became the worst offshore environmental disaster in U.S. history.

The Macondo well explosion on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and triggered an 87-day oil spill in which millions of gallons of crude flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mix was the first of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes connected with the well incident to be tried.   Continuación...