Theranos trial: Prosecution rests, Elizabeth Holmes takes the stand

This week in Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos trial: Safeway and Walgreens testify

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives in federal courtroom on Sept. 8 for opening arguments in her extremely anticipated trial. 


David Odisho/Getty Pictures

The trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is reaching a vital level. The prosecution rested its case on Friday after calling almost 30 witnesses over the previous two months. Now it is the protection’s flip to construct its case, and in a shock transfer, Holmes took the stand Friday to speak about her early days at Stanford College and the blood-testing startup on the heart of the carefully watched trial. She’s anticipated to testify additional Monday. 

Holmes is charged with a number of counts of conspiracy and fraud over claims she made concerning the firm’s compact blood-testing machine. Investigations revealed the expertise had critical issues. In a couple of brief years, Theranos went from being valued at $9 billion to being one of many decade’s extra infamous Silicon Valley tales.

Since September, federal prosecutors have tried to make the case that Holmes misled sufferers and buyers. This week they offered testimony alleging that Theranos doctored paperwork meant to indicate validation of the corporate’s purportedly revolutionary blood-testing expertise. Amongst quite a few different witnesses, jurors additionally heard from a affected person who obtained a false-positive HIV take a look at from Theranos and a former lab director who shut down one of many firm’s labs after changing into involved about knowledge from one other HIV take a look at.

Holmes’ attorneys have pushed again in cross-examination, however on Friday they started to name witnesses of their very own. First up was Trent Middleton, a paralegal on the legislation agency representing Holmes, who defined paperwork illustrating Theranos’ monetary and operational historical past. Then the protection known as Theranos board member Fabrizio Bonanni to the stand. The legal professionals mentioned Bonanni’s testimony will present Holmes made real makes an attempt to repair issues at Theranos and that the prosecution failed to say progress made by the corporate. 

Subsequent it was Holmes’ flip, although her attorneys hadn’t made prior indications she’d testify. Holmes pulled down her COVID masks, appeared composed on the stand and at instances smiled whereas answering questions on herself and Theranos. “We labored for years with groups of scientists and engineers to miniaturize all of the applied sciences within the laboratory,” Holmes testified, in response to The Wall Road Journal.  

Here is what else to find out about one of many greatest trials of the last decade to date.

What occurred to Holmes and Theranos?

In 2003, Holmes dropped out of Stanford College at 19 to discovered Theranos with the purpose of disrupting the blood-testing trade. The corporate mentioned it was growing proprietary expertise that required gathering a smaller quantity of blood than a traditional intravenous draw and was extra moveable than conventional exams despatched off to a lab.

Theranos started to see extra mainstream consideration in 2013 when it signed up Walgreens and Safeway as potential clients. At one level, the startup was valued at greater than $9 billion.

Holmes began appearing on the duvet of varied publications, together with Fortune, typically drawing comparisons to Steve Jobs for her seeming powers of disruption and a penchant for high-necked black tops.

However the fortunes of each Holmes and Theranos started to alter in 2015 when The Wall Road Journal took a deeper look into the corporate. The Journal reported that solely a small portion of exams had been being carried out with the corporate’s testing machine, named Edison, and that many exams had been being run on different firms’ machines, utilizing diluted blood samples. The accuracy of take a look at outcomes that sufferers obtained from Theranos was additionally known as into query.

All this led to the prices filed towards Holmes in 2018, a settlement with the Securities and Alternate Fee and the everlasting shuttering of Theranos shortly thereafter.

A 2019 documentary, a ebook known as Dangerous Blood: Secrets and techniques and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by Wall Road Journal reporter John Carreyrou, and a number of podcasts concerning the firm’s precipitous fall helped convey mainstream consideration to the story.

Former Theranos worker and whistleblower Tyler Shultz spoke with CNET in 2020 about the entire saga.

What’s Holmes charged with?

Holmes is formally charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.

“The fees stem from [Holmes’] allegedly misleading representations about [Theranos] and its medical testing expertise,” reads a assertion from the US District Courtroom in Northern California

Basically, Holmes is accused of mendacity to sufferers about how the corporate’s blood testing labored and the way efficient the exams had been. A few of the prices additionally relate to Holmes allegedly deceptive buyers concerning the inner workings at Theranos and the way a lot income the corporate was anticipated to generate.

If convicted, Holmes could possibly be sentenced to as much as 20 years in jail.

What’s Holmes’ aspect of the story?

Although Holmes denied that the allegations made by the Journal’s authentic reporting had been true, she’s by no means advised her aspect of the story from that time on in depth.

“That is what occurs whenever you work to alter issues,” Holmes mentioned on CNBC’s Mad Cash in 2015. “First they assume you are loopy, then they combat you, after which the entire sudden you modify the world.”

The 37-year-old reportedly pursued a ebook deal to get her story out. The ebook by no means materialized, however a extensively acclaimed HBO documentary concerning the Theranos collapse, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley by director Alex Gibney, got here out in 2019. It did not painting Holmes in a flattering mild and he or she did not cooperate with the filmmakers, so her tackle the occasions of the previous half-decade largely stays a thriller.

Holmes’ legal professionals come from the high-powered Washington agency that defended President Invoice Clinton at his impeachment trial. One risk is that they’ll argue she was following one thing just like the Silicon Valley “faux it until you make it” ethos and that she all the time believed within the long-term potential of the corporate and its expertise to finally ship on its guarantees.

Based on The Wall Road Journal, Holmes’ legal professionals have mentioned she could argue that “she believed any alleged misrepresentations had been true and accordingly that Theranos was a reliable enterprise producing worth for buyers.”

There have been hints of this protection in opening statements, when Wade referred to the corporate’s expertise as “actual” and “progressive.”

On Aug. 28, newly unsealed courtroom filings instructed Holmes might search to defend herself by alleging she suffered psychological, sexual and emotional abuse by the hands of former Theranos president and onetime boyfriend Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, and that due to submissiveness to him, she believed allegedly fraudulent statements she made had been true. 

This technique was additionally foreshadowed in opening arguments during which Wade referred to Balwani’s mood and promised extra associated proof can be offered through the trial. 

Legal professionals for Balwani known as abuse allegations “outrageous.”

Holmes took the stand and commenced testifying on Friday, Nov. 19, briefly discussing her imaginative and prescient, throughout her first 12 months of faculty, for altering well being care, The Wall Road Journal reported. She’s anticipated to return to the stand Monday, so we’ll see what else she has to say.

How can I watch the trial?

The trial formally started Sept. 7, with opening arguments the next day. There is not a web-based feed of the trial, and tv cameras aren’t allowed within the courtroom, so one of the simplest ways to observe the case can be by way of reporters within the room taking notes the old style means.

In complete, over 200 potential witnesses have been recognized between the prosecution and the protection, so it is attainable testimony will go on for months. 

Balwani faces related prices in a separate trial scheduled for subsequent 12 months.

Each Holmes and Balwani have pleaded not responsible.

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