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Testimony: Most of deleted messages weren't relevant to BP spill probe

  |   Dec. 10, 2013 at 4:18 PM
NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Most of the messages deleted by a BP engineer in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster weren't relevant to the spill, a recipient of the texts says.

Wilson Arabie, a BP contractor, made the statement during the sixth day of the federal trial of former BP engineer Kent Mix in New Orleans, the Baton Rouge newspaper the Advocate reported Tuesday.

Mix is accused of hampering a federal investigation of the spill by deleting 200 messages exchanged with BP supervisor Jonathan Sprague and 100 messages exchanged with Arabie.

Mix faces two counts of obstructing justice and could face 20 years in jail on each count.

Aaron Katz, Arabie's and Mix's lawyer, took turns in court reading the recovered text messages. In one, Mix talked about getting together with Arabie for lunch and in another about fixing his pool. Some of the messages, however, dealt with the rate at which oil was gushing from the broken oil rig into the Gulf of Mexico, a central issue of the spill.

Special Agent Kelly Bryson of the FBI said last week the messages would have helped the U.S. Justice Department's investigation of the accident. She said she would have liked to have presented them to a grand jury considering criminal charges in the blowout.

All but 17 of the messages were recovered by forensic experts.

Bryson testified she did not present the recovered message to the grand jury when she testified before it in May 2012.

Prosecutors maintain regardless of the content of the messages, Mix had been ordered by BP to preserve all documents and messages relating to the spill.

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