Jurors begin to weigh the evidence in Elizabeth Holmes case
SAN JOSE, California
Jurors now tasked with evaluating 11 fraud and conspiracy charges against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes are expected to begin their first full day of deliberations on Monday. They have plenty of evidence to examine after a three-month trial that captivated Silicon Valley.
This included the testimony of 32 witnesses – including Holmes herself – and over 900 exhibits.
The eight men and four women on the jury took the weekend off after Judge Edward Davila handed them the case late Friday afternoon. They are tasked with deciding whether Holmes has turned his blood testing startup into a massive scam. If convicted on all counts, Holmes, 37, faces up to 20 years in prison.
The lawsuit revolves around allegations that Holmes fooled investors, business partners and patients about Theranos’ technology. She has repeatedly claimed that the company’s new testing device can detect hundreds of illnesses and other problems with just a few drops of blood taken with a finger prick instead of a needle stuck in a vein.
The concept was so compelling that Theranos and Holmes raised more than $ 900 million, part of it from billionaire investors such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch and software titan Larry Ellison. The Palo Alto, Calif., Company has also negotiated potentially lucrative deals with major retailers Walgreens and Safeway. Holmes quickly began gracing the covers of national magazines as a prodigy.
Unknown to most people outside of Theranos, the company’s blood testing technology was flawed, often producing inaccurate results that could have endangered the lives of patients who took the tests.
After the flaws were discovered in 2015 and 2016, Theranos finally collapsed. The Ministry of Justice filed its criminal case in 2018.
In a dramatic turn on the witness stand last month, Holmes said her former lover and business partner Sunny Balwani secretly controlled her diet, friendships and more while subjecting her to mental, emotional and sexual abuse.
Although the testimony made Holmes Balwani’s pawn, his defense team did not mention the alleged abuse and its effects on Holmes in closing arguments.
Balwani’s attorney categorically denied Holmes’ charges in court documents the jury never saw. Jurors also never heard of Balwani, who intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if he was called to testify. Balwani, 56, faces similar fraud charges in a separate trial set to begin in February.
This leaves the jury to decide whether the alleged abuse of the partner may have affected Holmes’ decisions at Theranos.