Attorneys for ex-BP engineer say ‘third-party’ evidence proves innocence

The Houston Chronicle on May 14, 2012 released the following:

“By Zain Shauk

Attorneys for a former BP engineer accused of deleting text messages about the size of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill said Monday an unnamed third party holds evidence that proves his innocence.

The attorneys for Kurt Mix, a 50-year-old drilling engineer from Katy, said the evidence is protected under the attorney-client privilege of a third party and “conclusively demonstrates” that Mix did not obstruct justice by deleting evidence, according to a motion filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

Lawyers for Mix, the only person so far to face criminal charges in connection with the BP spill, are asking the court to force disclosure of the evidence. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors charge that Mix deleted more than 200 text messages, including one specific message sent on May 26, 2010, that revealed he understood a proposed “top kill” operation to shut down the Macondo well would not work because of the size of the oil spill, according to a criminal complaint filed last month.

Mix’s attorneys argued the evidence from the undisclosed third party would refute the government allegations.

“That evidence establishes affirmatively that Mix had no intent to hide either flow rate or top kill information and that he in fact hid neither,” the attorneys’ motion said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice declined to comment.

According to the criminal complaint, Mix deleted strings of texts to his BP supervisor, the drilling engineering manager for the Gulf of Mexico, and an outside contractor. Mix’s attorneys, in their latest motion, disclosed what they said were records of text messages between Mix and the contractor, which contained no details about oil flows or spill response operations.

One of the specific messages in question, about the spill’s size and flow rate, was sent from Mix to his BP supervisor, according to the complaint.

BP had said publicly that oil was spewing out of the well at a pace of about 5,000 barrels a day and that a top kill operation was unlikely to succeed if the flow exceeded 15,000 barrels a day, according to the complaint. But Mix’s estimates, via email and text, were higher than BP’s public statements, the government says.

On the morning of May 26, 2010, BP commenced a top kill operation, according to the criminal complaint.

The text Mix allegedly sent to his BP supervisor at 10:25 p.m. on May 26 said, “Too much flowrate – over 15,000 and too large an orifice. Pumped over 12,800 (barrels) of mud today plus 5 separate bridging pills. Tired. Going home and getting ready for round three tomorrow.”

On May 28, BP said the top kill operation was proceeding as planned, then announced its failure the following day.

Although the government alleges that Mix deleted the texts from his iPhone, it has used much of the material that he preserved in the case against him, his attorney, Joan McPhee, has said. She could not be reached for comment Monday.

BP declined to comment.”


Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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