(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — Elizabeth Holmes finished her testimony on Wednesday and her defense team rested their case in her criminal fraud trial.
All that’s left now are closing arguments. Then the jury will begin its deliberations.
For the jury to convict Holmes, the founder of the now defunct blood-testing startup Theranos, prosecutors must prove she knowingly misled investors about her company’s technology — a key element in the 11 fraud charges she faces.
Holmes could be sentenced to decades in prison if convicted. The 37-year-old has pleaded not guilty.
As both sides prepare for the last leg of the trial, here’s a look at some of what we’ve learned from the former Theranos CEO.
The buck stopped with her
Throughout the trial, Holmes’ team has suggested that her coworkers — namely the lab directors and her ex-boyfriend and former company COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani — were responsible for certain aspects of the company.
But prosecutors got Holmes to acknowledge that when it came to making decisions at Theranos, the buck stopped with her.
“But, ultimately all roads, as the CEO, lead to you?” U.S. Attorney Robert Leach asked Holmes on day five of her testimony.
“Yes,” Holmes said.
“And is it fair [to say] that the buck stops with you?” Leach continued.
“I felt that,” she replied.
On redirect, Holmes told her attorney Kevin Downey that she felt the buck stopped with her, but said she was not aware of all the decisions that were made at the company.
Relationship with Sunny Balwani
Holmes held back tears during her last day of direct examination as she told jurors that Balwani had repeatedly abused her during their near decade-long relationship. Balwani, her co-defendant in the case, had his trial severed from Holmes earlier this year after learning of the abuse allegations. He has denied those allegations.
On cross examination, Leach sought to poke holes in Holmes’ narrative. He said the couple had texted each other the word “love” at least 594 times in the more than 12,000 messages they exchanged.
“Was just thinking about you and meditating on my tigress,” Balwani texted Holmes in 2015, a message she read aloud in court at Leach’s behest, fighting back tears as she spoke.
The government called investors to the stand and asked if they knew Theranos used third-party machines to conduct their blood testing. None of the former shareholders testified they did. But many of them said they were sold on the smaller blood-testing device Holmes had coined the “Edison” or the “miniLab.”
Holmes admitted on direct examination her “3.5” device could never run more than 12 clinical tests. Many of the company’s tests offered to patients at Theranos Wellness Centers in Walgreens stores were run on modified third-party machines, she said.
Asked why Holmes never shared that information with her investors, or even Walgreens, she chalked it up to trade secrets.
If Theranos’ proprietary info got out, “the big medical device companies like Siemens could easily reproduce what we had done,” Holmes testified. “They had more engineers than we did and a lot more resources.”
On cross examination, Leach barely broached the topic. But he did get Holmes to admit that it would be wrong if Theranos told investors that the company was not using modified third-party devices.
Holmes said she informed the FDA, her board of directors and the federal lab regulator, CMS, that she was running tests on third-party devices because, unlike the investors, they could assure protection of her intellectual property. Although, during the cross-examination, Leach pointed out that Gen. James Mattis, a then-Theranos board member, testified he was unaware of the modified third-party devices.
Prosecutors have repeatedly suggested Holmes doctored documents while she was running Theranos. In her testimony, Holmes owned up to — but reframed — some of those allegations.
On her second day of direct examination, she said she placed the logos of two pharmaceutical companies on blood-testing validation reports. She acknowledged she did this without the drugmakers’ permission and before she sent them to Walgreens.
“I wish I had done it differently,” she said on the stand Nov. 23 while being questioned by her attorney.
Leach later used that very same phrase six times on Nov. 30, the first day of his cross examination.
“Is that another thing you wish you had done differently?” he asked Holmes.
“One hundred percent,” she replied before later saying, “There are many things I wish I did differently.”
Leach also pointed to a third altered pharma report, which had been originally created by the drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline, after the company evaluated Theranos’ technology. Like the other reports, the changes Holmes said she made to this document included the company’s logo.
Downey characterized the issue of doctoring documents as a “sideshow” on Tuesday, suggesting that Holmes did not conceal the reports because two of the three altered versions were sent directly to the drugmakers.
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