SAN JOSE, Calif. — For the six days that Elizabeth Holmes, the founding father of the failed blood-testing start-up Theranos, took the stand in her fraud trial, she blamed others, accused a former boyfriend of abusing and controlling her, and reframed her actions as attempting to do good for her firm.
On Tuesday, Ms. Holmes capped her protection with flat denials.
“I don’t assume I did that,” she mentioned in response to a query about whether or not she had minimized the findings of a devastating regulatory inspection at Theranos. She then blamed her firm’s attorneys for “doing loads of the speaking in that assembly.”
The feedback ended Ms. Holmes’s principal testimony, which stood out because the rarest of rarities. Few know-how executives, not to mention a feminine tech govt, are ever charged with felony fraud. Even fewer take the stand to defend themselves. Her time on the stand, which is more likely to formally end on Wednesday, was the climax to a trial that has captivated the enterprise world and been held up as a parable of Silicon Valley’s fake-it-till-you-make-it tradition on overdrive.
Ms. Holmes, 37, has pleaded not responsible to 11 counts of fraud for claims she made as chief govt of Theranos, which she based in 2003. If convicted, she faces as much as 20 years in jail.
Her trial is now shifting into its finish stage. Both facet might name closing witnesses over the approaching days, adopted by closing arguments and detailed directions to jurors for his or her deliberations on a verdict.
“The jury bought to know her over six days,” Jeffrey Cohen, an affiliate professor at Boston School Legislation College, mentioned of Ms. Holmes. “If the protection is profitable, that is perhaps the choice that can make the distinction.”
For a lot of the proceedings, the jury heard witnesses testify concerning the particulars of Ms. Holmes’s alleged fraud. Theranos rose to prominence, elevating $945 million in funding, by claiming that its revolutionary machines may carry out lots of of exams utilizing solely a tiny drop of blood. The hype made Ms. Holmes a fixture on journal covers that hailed her as the subsequent Steve Jobs.
However a 2015 expose in The Wall Road Journal uncovered issues with Theranos’s blood exams, kicking off a downward spiral of regulatory crackdowns and lawsuits. The corporate dissolved in 2018, and Ms. Holmes was indicted.
Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founding father of the blood testing start-up Theranos, stands trial for 2 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 9 counts of wire fraud.
Listed below are among the key figures within the case →
Since her trial started in September, prosecutors have known as dozens of witnesses, together with former board members, lab administrators, workers, traders, sufferers and enterprise companions. They’ve revealed the main points of falsified paperwork, outlandish monetary projections, unrealistic guarantees and faked demonstrations at Theranos. Witnesses typically spent hours on the tedious trivia of finance, chemistry, know-how and phlebotomy.
A lot of the case in opposition to Ms. Holmes has relied on her emails and textual content messages to tie her on to the corporate’s issues. Prosecutors should persuade the jury that Ms. Holmes knew concerning the issues and didn’t disclose them to the individuals pouring cash into Theranos and to the sufferers counting on its blood exams to make medical selections.
In her protection, Mr. Holmes’s attorneys tried exhibiting that the witnesses’ tales have been extra difficult than they’d let on. Protection attorneys hit traders for not doing sufficient analysis on Theranos earlier than investing. They usually tried blaming lab administrators for issues with the accuracy of Theranos’s exams.
By way of all of it, Ms. Holmes sat up stick-straight in her chair and stared straight forward, her expression obscured by a masks.
After prosecutors rested their case final month, and earlier than calling Ms. Holmes to the stand, her attorneys launched transient testimony from a biotechnology govt who joined Theranos’s board of administrators after it got here beneath hearth from the media and regulators.
Ms. Holmes then supplied quite a lot of excuses for Theranos’s shortcomings. She mentioned others had misinterpreted her statements about what Theranos’s know-how may do. She mentioned that, till a 2015 regulatory inspection revealed a bunch of issues and compelled Theranos to void its exams, she believed its exams labored. She mentioned she hadn’t been certified to run a lab and had relied on the statements of others.
She additionally admitted to including the logos of pharmaceutical corporations to a collection of experiences, which implied the drug makers had endorsed Theranos’s know-how after they hadn’t. For this, she expressed remorse.
Her direct testimony ended with a bombshell revelation that Ramesh Balwani, her former boyfriend, enterprise companion and alleged co-conspirator, emotionally and bodily abused her. By way of tears, she testified that Mr. Balwani had managed each facet of her life — together with her schedule, weight loss plan and presentation — and had even pressured her to have intercourse with him in opposition to her will.
On cross-examination, she choked up once more when prosecutors had her learn textual content messages with Mr. Balwani that confirmed a extra affectionate facet of their relationship. Prosecutors elicited a number of extra mea culpas from Ms. Holmes, together with remorse over how she dealt with the Journal exposé and a constructive Fortune cowl story concerning the firm that was later closely corrected.
This week, prosecutors homed in on the discrepancies between what Ms. Holmes mentioned in her testimony and what traders mentioned she had instructed them. Quite a few Theranos companions and traders testified that they’d believed the corporate had contracts with the army and deployed its know-how in medevacs and on battlefields, for instance.
One of many prosecutors, Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. lawyer, requested Ms. Holmes totally different variations of the identical query repeatedly to hammer the dearth of army contracts. She confirmed that Theranos had not had the contracts.
To point out that Theranos was by no means paid for work with the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, Mr. Leach additionally repeatedly requested Ms. Holmes concerning the lack of income, posing the query for annually from 2007 to 2014. Ms. Holmes mentioned no every time.
Ms. Holmes resisted a lot of Mr. Leach’s traces of questioning by testifying that she didn’t recall or didn’t know. She additionally tried to dispute particulars in sure questions.
Ms. Holmes’s attorneys questioned her for a second time Tuesday afternoon with a rapid-fire collection of statements meant to undermine Mr. Leach’s factors and reiterate her preliminary testimony. As soon as once more, Ms. Holmes mentioned that Mr. Balwani had created Theranos’s unrealistic monetary projections and that Theranos’s scientists had put collectively experiences on its know-how.
Till a regulatory inspection revealed deeper issues, she testified, she thought Theranos’s lab was “wonderful.” Ms. Holmes additionally repeatedly pressured her issues over exposing Theranos’s commerce secrets and techniques as an excuse for withholding data from traders and companions, testifying once more that she nervous the corporate would lose its skill to compete. Discussing Theranos’s use of third-party machines would have violated Theranos’s personal trade-secret coverage, she mentioned.
Mr. Leach tried pulling down that argument by noting that almost all of Theranos’s traders and companions had signed nondisclosure agreements that Ms. Holmes anticipated to be adopted.
He additional famous that, regardless of Ms. Holmes’s holding a patent for some know-how, a patent didn’t “essentially imply the invention described within the patent works.” Mr. Leach requested her if she had created a capsule that measures lipids in blood, as described in a single Theranos patent.
Ms. Holmes smiled, leaned into the microphone and mentioned, “Not but.”
Erin Woo contributed reporting.