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Ex-BP engineer convicted of deleting text messages to obstruct oil spill probe

NEW ORLEANS – A former BP drilling engineer was convicted Wednesday of deleting text messages from his cellphone to obstruct a federal investigation of the company's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

He was found guilty on one charge and acquitted of a second charge.

A federal jury deliberated for more than nine hours over three days before reaching the verdict on Kurt Mix's case. The count of obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Mix will be released on his present bond, and sentencing is scheduled for March 26.

Mix hugged his friends and family members in the courtroom before leaving the courthouse hurriedly.

"I'm only going to speak through counsel," he said to a reporter trying to ask him a question.

Trailing behind her brother in the courthouse lobby, Bridget Mix called the verdict "just unbelievable."

"You can't wrap your head around any of it," she said.

Prosecutors argued that the 52-year-old engineer from Katy, Texas, was trying to destroy evidence when he deleted hundreds of text messages to and from a supervisor and a BP contractor. An indictment also accused Mix of deleting two voicemails from the same two people.

Mix's lawyers said their client didn't hide anything. He preserved other records containing the same information contained in the deleted messages, they told jurors.

"We remain as convinced as ever of Kurt Mix's innocence," defense attorney Joan McPhee said after the verdict.

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