June 13, 2014
A former BP senior engineer found guilty last year of destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was granted a new trial based on his claim of juror misconduct.
Kurt Mix was convicted by a federal jury in December of one of two counts of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said Mix deleted from his mobile phone text messages and voice mails related to BP’s effort to estimate the size of what turned out to be largest U.S. offshore oil spill.
Mix asked U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. in New Orleans to throw out the conviction, contending he didn’t get a fair trial. Duval yesterday rejected Mix’s claim that the evidence wasn’t sufficient for a conviction, while finding he wasn’t tried by an impartial jury because of misconduct by one of the 12 panelists.
That juror brought in comments from outside the jury room she had overheard in an elevator, saying that they reaffirmed her intent to vote guilty, Duval said. The remark came after the jury was deadlocked “and a verdict was reached in essence two deliberative hours thereafter,” he said.