(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — A jury of eight men and four women will begin to deliberate on Monday in the criminal fraud case against fallen Silicon Valley CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
The jurors will be tasked with weighing the 11 fraud charges leveled against Holmes following weeks of witness testimony from insiders who worked at the blood-testing startup, and patients and investors who prosecutors say were defrauded by the Theranos founder once lauded as the next Steve Jobs.
Holmes, 37, is charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She could face decades in prison if convicted.
Holmes’ fate was handed to the jury on Friday, after defense attorneys concluded their closing arguments and prosecutors wrapped up their rebuttal.
In the last minutes of his closing remarks, Holmes’ lawyer, Kevin Downey, doubled down on his team’s central defense: that their client did not intend to defraud the alleged victims — something prosecutors must show to secure a conviction.
Even as the company was thrust into turmoil, Downey said, Holmes stayed on as the company’s leader and never cashed out a single share of her Theranos stock, once worth billions.
“You know that at the first sign of trouble, crooks cash out, criminals cover up, and rats leave a fleeing ship,” he said, his voice rising to a crescendo. “She didn’t do any of those.”
“She stayed the whole time and she went down with that ship when it went down,” he added. “You don’t need more from me to know what her intent was.”
But in his rebuttal argument, prosecutor John Bostic reframed Holmes’ propensity for hard work and company success as a motive for the alleged crimes.
“The defense holds that out as a reason to doubt Ms. Holmes’ intent to defraud in this case,” he said. “But in fact that was her motive.”
“She committed these crimes because she was desperate for the company to succeed,” he added.
Theranos was the brainchild of Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford University at the age of 19 to pour herself into building a diagnostics company which she vowed would revolutionize health care. And just a few years later, when she was 26, prosecutors contend, she knowingly made false statements to investors and others to get money.
The “rosy” picture of her startup, which promised its technology could run a full range of blood tests from a tiny sample, among other claims, was never real, Bostic said.
“It never existed,” he told the jury at the top of his rebuttal, adding that this version of Theranos did exist in the minds of the investors and patients who believed Holmes.
But Downey said that some of the allegedly false statements Holmes made about her company to investors arose from information she obtained from her Theranos team.
Her perception of the number of tests that could be run by her marquee miniature analyzer — which she dubbed the “Edison” or “miniLab” — was provided by scientists and engineers, according to Downey, and the hefty financial projections Theranos had shared with investors were prepared by Holmes’ ex-boyfriend and company COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.
It was also not until the fall of 2015 that she began to hear about the issues that beset her lab, and would be later uncovered in a federal audit, he added.
But in their two days of closing arguments, the defense did not utter a word about the bombshell abuse allegations Holmes had brought against Balwani during her seven-day stint on the stand — claims that Balwani has firmly denied.
The government, on the other hand, offered the jury a framework to judge Holmes’ accusations against her former boyfriend.
“In the absence of any evidence linking that experience to the charged conduct, you should put it out of your mind,” Bostic said.
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