SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Lawyers for Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood testing startup Theranos, finished their defence in her fraud trial on Wednesday. She was the final witness, and her testimony ended suddenly on a question about justice after seven days on the stand.
It lasted fewer than three weeks, was concentrated on one witness’ evidence, and covered themes including financial predictions, private aircraft, fraudulent paperwork, and intimate partner violence.
“Do you realise they had a right to accurate answers regarding Theranos’ capabilities?” Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. attorney and the case’s main prosecutor, posed the question to Ms. Holmes, alluding to Theranos’ investors and patients, who are at the centre of the case’s fraud claims.
“Of course,” Ms. Holmes said.
The conclusion of her defence marked the conclusion of a nearly four-month-long trial that gripped the public as a referendum on Silicon Valley’s start-up culture. Ms. Holmes, 37, is charged with 11 counts of fraud in connection with representations she made to investors and patients about Theranos, which went bankrupt in a scandal in 2018.
Before presenting their final arguments, attorneys on both sides of the case must agree on a set of jury instructions, which will begin on December 16. The jury will next begin discussions for a verdict in the case, which is notable since relatively few technology executives are charged with criminal fraud.
Ms. Holmes’ testimony comprised the majority of her defence. For seven days, she blamed others for Theranos’ and its blood testing technology’s failure. She said her statements were misunderstood and that she thought Theranos devices functioned. She said she withheld information regarding Theranos because it was a trade secret. And she concentrated on Ramesh Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and business partner, whom she blamed for exaggerated financial predictions and issues in Theranos’ lab.
Mr. Balwani, also known as Sunny and nearly two decades her senior, had also been domineering and abusive, according to Ms. Holmes. She said that he had dictated her schedule, nutrition, self-presentation, and who she could see. He also compelled her to have intercourse with him, according to her.
When asked how this influenced her work at Theranos, Ms. Holmes stated that it was impossible to distinguish where his influence began and stopped. Mr. Balwani fiercely denied charges of abuse in legal files submitted before to the commencement of the trial.
Ms. Holmes, on the other hand, admitted to making mistakes. She included pharmaceutical company logos in validation reports she submitted to investors, leading them to assume the drug firms had backed Theranos’ technology. She expressed sorrow for how she handled a Wall Street Journal exposé using private investigators, as well as legal assaults on former workers who talked to the writer. And she admitted to enabling inaccurate information about her to be spread in a positive Fortune cover storey about her.
Ms. Holmes wrapped up her testimony with a speech on her plans for pitching Theranos to investors, patients, and the press.
“I tried to portray the effect,” she explained. “I wanted to talk about what this firm could achieve in a year, five years, and ten years.” They weren’t concerned with today, tomorrow, or next month; they were concerned with the type of change we might effect.”
It was all designed to bolster the defense’s major point, which was articulated in opening comments in September. Ms. Holmes made mistakes, according to her lawyers. Her errors, however, were not a crime. They maintained that she was naive and ambitious, but she never intended to lie.
“Theranos didn’t regard mistakes as crimes; they saw them as stepping stones to success,” Lance Wade, one of Ms. Holmes’ attorneys, said in his opening comments.
Prosecutors attempted to undermine Ms. Holmes’ excuses during cross-examination. They pointed out that Theranos had revealed several additional trade secrets with its partners, who had agreed to sign nondisclosure agreements. He cited many instances in which Ms. Holmes enabled inaccurate and misleading information about Theranos to reach investors and patients.
Earlier in the trial, during evidence from 29 witnesses summoned by prosecutors, Ms. Holmes’ lawyers attempted to punch holes in the case and create doubt about the facts. They questioned investors’ trustworthiness, claiming that they should have done more study on Theranos before investing in order to comprehend the dangers and specifics of the operation. They also claimed that patients who testified about receiving problematic blood test results from Theranos were unqualified to interpret them.