SAN JOSE, Calif. – Consultations in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood testing startup Theranos, will go into his seventh day on Monday, with jury giving little clues as to how close they are to a decision.
The jury, made up of eight men and four women, has so far spent over 43 hours deliberating whether Ms. Holmes, 37, is guilty of two cases of conspiracy to commit wire transfer fraud and nine cases of wire transfer fraud. Every case of fraud is punished with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The jury has not asked the court any questions since December 23, when they did asked Listening to audio recordings allegedly misleading investors about Theranos’ business dealings with Ms. Holmes. They also asked for instructions from the jury to be taken home, which the court declined.
It is not unusual that the deliberations in economic litigation are lengthy, especially in complex fraud cases in which defendants are charged on several counts over several years. In 2007 it took a jury 12 days to complete convict Conrad Black, a press tycoon, of fraud following a 14-week trial on 13 counts. Martin Shkreli, the infamous former hedge fund manager, was sentenced of securities fraud after five days of negotiations in 2017 after a five-week process.
In the case of Ms. Holmes, the jury will have to sift 14 weeks of testimony and over 900 pieces of evidence to determine whether Ms. Holmes has deliberately misled investors, patients and advertisers in pursuing investments and deals for her blood testing start-up. Ms. Holmes founded Theranos in 2003. She left Stanford in 2004 and spent the next decade raising nearly $ 1 billion from investors and signing contracts with Walgreens and Safeway.
But the Wall Street Journal revealed in 2015 that Theranos ‘blood testing machines could only perform a dozen tests, contrary to Ms. Holmes’ claims of over 1,000 to investors, business associates and the public. Theranos officially closed in 2018 amid a scandal.
For many, the saga represents the worst excesses of Silicon Valley’s startup culture, where founders regularly expand the truth in search of fortune and fame. Such founders are, however rarely prosecuted.
Prosecutors called 29 witnesses trying to prove that Ms. Holmes “chose fraud over loss of business,” according to Jeff Schenk, a US assistant attorney, said with final arguments.
The case of the defense was mainly based on Mrs. Holmes’s own testimony. she said she believed her own claims and pointed a finger at her officers, including Ramesh Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos Chief Operating Officer. Mr Balwani, who is faced with identical charges, is due to be brought to trial from February.