Attorneys for Elizabeth Holmes made their last stand on Friday as jurors prepared to decide whether the Theranos founder is guilty of conspiracy and fraud.
Federal prosecutors have portrayed Holmes as a crook and liar who defrauded investors out of nearly $1 billion and put patients at risk by providing faulty blood tests.
Holmes’ attorneys responded that the founder genuinely believed that Theranos would revolutionize healthcare by creating a cheaper, easier and quicker way to test blood.
As evidence, Holmes’ attorney Kevin Downey pointed to the fact that Holmes stayed at Theranos until the bitter end, long after many investors and employees jumped ship in the wake of a damning 2015 Wall Street Journal exposé showing that the company’s technology was deeply flawed.
The company, which was once valued at $9 billion, officially folded in 2018 with Holmes still at the helm.
“You know that at the first sign of trouble, crooks cash out,” Downey told jurors in San Jose federal court. “She went down with that ship when it went down.”
“She believed she was building a technology that would change the world,” he added.
Downey’s dramatic final speech came before the jury — which is made up of 10 men and four women, including two alternates — began the process of deciding Holmes’ fate after three months of testimony.
Jurors must agree unanimously to convict or acquit Holmes on each of nine counts of federal wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud that could result in a 20-year prison sentence. They will be allowed to deliberate through the holidays if needed.
Another key part of Holmes’ defense has involved painting Ramesh “Sonny” Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and the Theranos’ former chief operating officer, as the real fraudster.
Holmes, who took the unusual step of personally testifying in her trial, has accused Balwani of emotional and sexual abuse and blamed his allegedly controlling nature for Theranos’ mistakes.
Balwani — who is nearly 20 years older than Holmes — told the founder how to speak, spend her time and even what to eat, Holmes testified earlier in December.
“He told me that I didn’t know what I was doing in business, that my convictions were wrong, that he was astonished at my mediocrity and if I followed my instincts, I was going to fail,” Holmes claimed, adding that Balwani sometimes forced her into sex.
After one time that Balwani allegedly forced Holmes to have sex, she wrote in an iPhone note: “Don’t enjoy literally anything about it or who I am if I did it. Hurts so much. So so much. Can’t focus on anything except why? Why hurting myself? Can’t even move let alone do sit-ups or actually sit up. Lying swollen. Literally.”
Balwani, who has denied the accusations, is facing the same charges as Holmes in a separate trial set to begin in 2022.
Prosecutors have told jurors that they can take Holmes’ word that she was a victim of abuse while convicting her of conspiracy and fraud.
With Post wires