SAN JOSE, Calif. — For the six days that Elizabeth Holmes, the founder 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 making an attempt to do good for her firm.
On Tuesday, Ms. Holmes capped her protection with flat denials.
“I don’t think I did that,” she stated 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 a lot of the talking in that meeting.”
The feedback ended Ms. Holmes’s important testimony, which stood out because the rarest of rarities. Few technology executives, not to mention a feminine tech government, are ever charged with felony fraud. Even fewer take the stand to defend themselves. Her time on the stand, which is prone 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 culture on overdrive.
Ms. Holmes, 37, has pleaded not responsible to 11 counts of fraud for claims she made as chief government of Theranos, which she based in 2003. If convicted, she faces as much as 20 years in jail.
Her trial is now transferring into its finish stage. Either facet could 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 got to know her over six days,” Jeffrey Cohen, an affiliate professor at Boston College Law School, stated of Ms. Holmes. “If the defense is successful, that might be the decision that will make the difference.”
For most of the proceedings, the jury heard witnesses testify in regards to 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 tons of of checks utilizing solely a tiny drop of blood. The hype made Ms. Holmes a fixture on journal covers that hailed her as the following Steve Jobs.
But a 2015 expose in The Wall Street Journal uncovered issues with Theranos’s blood checks, kicking off a downward spiral of regulatory crackdowns and lawsuits. The firm dissolved in 2018, and Ms. Holmes was indicted.
Since her trial started in September, prosecutors have referred to as dozens of witnesses, together with former board members, lab administrators, staff, buyers, sufferers and enterprise companions. They have revealed the small print of falsified documents, outlandish monetary projections, unrealistic guarantees and faked demonstrations at Theranos. Witnesses typically spent hours on the tedious trivia of finance, chemistry, expertise and phlebotomy.
Much of the case towards 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 in regards to the issues and didn’t disclose them to the folks pouring cash into Theranos and to the sufferers counting on its blood checks to make medical selections.
In her protection, Mr. Holmes’s attorneys tried exhibiting that the witnesses’ tales had been extra sophisticated than they’d let on. Defense attorneys hit investors for not doing sufficient analysis on Theranos earlier than investing. And they tried blaming lab administrators for issues with the accuracy of Theranos’s checks.
Through 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 government who joined Theranos’s board of administrators after it got here beneath hearth from the media and regulators.
Ms. Holmes then supplied a selection of excuses for Theranos’s shortcomings. She stated others had misinterpreted her statements about what Theranos’s expertise may do. She stated that, till a 2015 regulatory inspection revealed a host of issues and compelled Theranos to void its checks, she believed its checks labored. She stated 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 sequence of studies, which implied the drug makers had endorsed Theranos’s expertise once 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 physically abused her. Through 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 towards 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 positive Fortune cover story in regards to the firm that was later closely corrected.
This week, prosecutors homed in on the discrepancies between what Ms. Holmes stated in her testimony and what buyers stated she had advised them. Numerous Theranos companions and buyers testified that they’d believed the corporate had contracts with the army and deployed its expertise in medevacs and on battlefields, for instance.
One of the prosecutors, Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. lawyer, requested Ms. Holmes totally different variations of the identical query repeatedly to hammer the shortage of army contracts. She confirmed that Theranos had not had the contracts.
To present that Theranos was by no means paid for work with the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, Mr. Leach additionally repeatedly requested Ms. Holmes in regards to the lack of income, posing the query for annually from 2007 to 2014. Ms. Holmes stated no every time.
Ms. Holmes resisted many of Mr. Leach’s strains 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 sequence of statements meant to undermine Mr. Leach’s factors and reiterate her preliminary testimony. Once once more, Ms. Holmes stated that Mr. Balwani had created Theranos’s unrealistic monetary projections and that Theranos’s scientists had put collectively studies on its expertise.
Until a regulatory inspection revealed deeper issues, she testified, she thought Theranos’s lab was “excellent.” Ms. Holmes additionally repeatedly confused her issues over exposing Theranos’s commerce secrets and techniques as an excuse for withholding info from buyers 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 stated.
Mr. Leach tried flattening that argument by noting that almost all of Theranos’s buyers 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 expertise, a patent didn’t “necessarily mean the invention described in 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 stated, “Not yet.”
Erin Woo contributed reporting.