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Elizabeth Holmes Begins Her Defense as Prosecutors Rest Case

Nov. 19, 2021, 8:49 PM

Lawyers representing Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes started their defense against criminal fraud charges after prosecutors concluded their case in the high-profile Silicon Valley trial.

Jurors in federal court in San Jose, California, have watched the government present evidence over 10 weeks through more than two dozen witnesses, documents, emails, video clips and audio recordings of the entrepreneur who dropped out of Stanford University to launch the blood-testing startup and serve as its chief executive officer.

Holmes, 37, is fighting allegations that she went to great lengths to deceive patients and investors while building Theranos into a $9 billion company before it collapsed in 2018. She and Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were charged with conspiracy and wire fraud that same year. They each face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted; Balwani will be tried separately next year and has pleaded not guilty.

The government has argued that Holmes dazzled partners and investors with the expectation they would partake in -- and reap the profits from -- a revolution in health care, even as she knew her blood analyzers were a failed technology.

Holmes’s central defense, as laid out by her lawyer in Sept. 8 opening arguments to the jury, is that she tried her hardest for 15 years to make the company succeed, but “coming up short is not a crime.”

Read More: Elizabeth Holmes Faces Last-Ditch Chance to Testify at Trial

Still, a big question question remains unanswered: Will Holmes testify? Jurors probably won’t hear from her until next week at the earliest.

The first witness for Holmes was Trent Middleton, a long-time paralegal at Williams & Connolly, the defense team’s law firm. He was called to summarize numerous patents issued to Theranos, company cash flow statements, patient data, customer receipts and proceeds from stock options.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila told jurors Friday the trial is unlikely to finish by Dec. 6, as originally planned. The judge addressed the lawyers on both sides while the jury was out of the courtroom.

“I don’t think any of you, I hope none of you, are being strategic in terms of timing,” he said. “None of you want the jury deliberating the case in the third week of December.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at

Peter Blumberg

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