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Ex-BP engineer who allegedly deleted texts heads to trial

| Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS — Nearly a year after energy giant BP cut a deal to a resolve a criminal investigation of its role in the nation's worst offshore oil spill, a jury is set to hear the Justice Department's case against a former company employee accused of trying to stymie the federal investigation.

Kurt Mix, who was a drilling engineer for BP, could receive a prison sentence if convicted of charges he deliberately deleted text messages and voicemails about the company's response to its huge 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Jury selection for his trial on two counts of obstruction of justice is scheduled to begin Monday in New Orleans.

His former employer pleaded guilty in January to manslaughter charges for the deaths of 11 rig workers and to lying to Congress about the size of the spill. The company agreed to pay $4 billion in penalties, including nearly $1.3 billion in fines.

Mix, 52, of Katy, Texas, is one of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the deadly disaster or its aftermath. His case is the first to be tried.

The indictment says Mix deleted a string of text messages to and from a supervisor from his iPhone on Oct. 4, 2010, a day before a company vendor tried to collect documents from his laptop.

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