Defense team rests in Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial
San Francisco - Fallen entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes on Wednesday finished her attempt to persuade a jury that she suffered lapses in business judgment but never engaged in fraud while running blood-testing startup Theranos, and then her defense lawyers rested their case shortly after she walked off the witness stand.
That gave Holmes the final say among the more than 30 witnesses that testified in a high-profile trial that began three months ago in the heart of Silicon Valley, where she became a media sensation before Theranos collapsed in ruins amid evidence that its ballyhooed blood-testing technology was dangerously flawed.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila recessed the trial for a week to allow time for refining the instructions to the jury in a complicated case what began three-and-half years ago with Holmes’’ indictment on multiple counts of fraud that could land her in prison for 20 years, if she is convicted.
Closing arguments are scheduled for December 16-17. Depending on the duration of those arguments, the jury could get the case late in the day of December 17 and continue deliberations during the week of December 20.
Holmes, 37, has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding investors and patients by misleading them about Theranos’ progress developing new technology intended to perform hundreds of blood tests at once on just a few drops of blood. Holmes testified in her defense for seven days in total.
Her defense team has described Holmes as a tireless worker who poured more than 15 years of her life into the pursuit of a faster, cheaper and less invasive way to test blood samples and screen for disease.
But federal prosecutors painted her in a darker light, depicting her as a conniving entrepreneur who duped investors, customers and patients for years, even though she knew Theranos was nearly bankrupt and its much-hyped blood-testing technology was a flop.
Her trial is nearing its end after months of detailed testimony from former investors, Theranos employees and Holmes herself. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have alternatively described her as a greedy villain who faked her way to the top and as a passionate underdog and victim of abuse who spent years trying to shake up the health care industry.
Her former lover and business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, whom Holmes has accused of emotional and sexual abuse, has been banned from attending her trial but faces his own early next year. His lawyer has vehemently denied the abuse accusations.