Elizabeth Holmes trial: prosecution rests after 11 weeks of testimony – The Guardian


It remains unclear if the former Theranos CEO will take the stand, which would open her up to cross questioning by the prosecution

Fri 19 Nov 2021 15.08 EST

Prosecutors rested their case in the criminal fraud trial of the Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, ending the first phase of a case that has held Silicon Valley in its grip.

Lawyers for Holmes are set to begin their defense later on Friday. But it is still unclear whether the former Silicon Valley executive will testify.

At the close of their case, prosecutors moved to dismiss one count of fraud regarding a patient who was unwilling to testify. The former executive now faces 11 counts of fraud and up to 20 years in prison.

Over the course of 11 weeks of proceedings in the San Jose, California, courtroom, government attorneys have attempted to prove Holmes knowingly misled investors and patients by misrepresenting the capabilities of her company’s blood-testing devices.

The prosecution called more than two dozen witnesses including former employees, investors and patients who testified that Theranos’s blood-testing devices did not work as advertised, returning inaccurate results. Witnesses also stated many blood tests were being carried out by external labs rather than on Theranos devices.

The legal team for Elizabeth Holmes will argue the founder did not knowingly commit fraud but rather did not understand the shortcomings of Theranos technology.

In opening arguments, her defense attorney Lance Wade painted a picture of a hardworking young female executive caught up in the Silicon Valley culture that encourages entrepreneurs to push cutting-edge ideas.

“In the end, Theranos failed, and Ms Holmes walked away with nothing,” he said. “But failure is not a crime – trying your hardest and coming up short, is not a crime.”

Holmes’s team previously indicated its first witness would be a paralegal from its own law firm.

Holmes has thus far remained silent in the courtroom. It is possible she will testify in her own defense – a risky move that would open her to being grilled in cross-examination by the prosecution.

The defense is expected to argue that Holmes was influenced by her co-executive and former boyfriend, Sunny Balwani. As potential witnesses, the defense team has listed a number of domestic violence experts, suggesting they may argue Holmes was abused and not thinking clearly when she made business decisions that resulted in fraud.

“There was another side of Holmes’s relationship with Balwani that the public never saw,” Wade said in opening arguments, adding that “trusting [Balwani] as her primary advisor was one of her mistakes”.

Balwani has strongly denied these allegations. His defense team did not respond to request for comment. He faces his own trial for fraud charges in 2022.












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