NEW ORLEANS – Federal prosecutors are appealing a judge’s decision to grant a new trial to a former BP engineer convicted of obstructing justice in an investigation of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The notice of appeal in the case of Kurt Mix was filed Friday in U.S. District Court, where Mix was tried, and at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Prosecutors accused Mix of deliberately deleting text messages to and from a supervisor and a BP contractor about the amount of oil flowing from BP’s Macondo well after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.
In June, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval threw out Mix’s December 2013 conviction and granted him a new trial. He ruled that a jury forewoman tainted the deliberations by mentioning to a deadlocked jury that she had heard something outside the trial that affirmed her view of Mix’s guilt.
Mix’s new trial currently is set for Aug. 18, although the appeal could change that.
Prosecutors say Mix deleted the text messages in order to stymie a grand jury investigation of the spill.
Mix’s attorneys have argued there is ample evidence he shared information about the flow rate throughout the government investigation. They also said prosecutors failed to prove that Mix knew the information he deleted would be pertinent to a grand jury investigation — an investigation they said he did not know about and that had not yet even begun.