Trial Set for Theranos Founder

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the now-defunct blood-testing startup Theranos, is set to go on trial today in a federal court, where prosecutors are set to reveal the evidence for fraud charges against the former rising star.

Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes (Credits: CNET)

The defendant is facing charges of fraud for allegedly making false claims about her business, mainly that the company’s devices which are designed to take a drop of blood from a finger prick have the capability to run a range of tests more efficiently, effectively, and faster and then other, more conventional laboratory tests. The trial is set to be one of the most closely followed trials of an American corporate executive in a long time.

The trial will be presided over by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, and the jury will hear the opening remarks beginning with the prosecution. The defendant is reportedly set to take the witness stand at some point during the trial. Holmes has pleaded not guilty on all counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. Another previous Theranos executive, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, has also been scheduled to be tried separately and has also pleaded not guilty on all counts.

The prosecution has stated that Holmes and Balwani defrauded investors in a five-year span between 2010 and 2015 and lied to customers when the company first started making its tests more accessible commercially, especially during a partnership with the pharmacy giant Walgreens.

The court filings have been released and reveal a romantic relationship between Holmes and Balwani where Holmes alleges that he abused her mentally and emotionally. Balwani has denied all such allegations. The attorneys for the defendant have stated that Holmes is likely to take the witness stand and testify on her relationship and how it affected her mental health and overall state. This marks a rare occasion as defendants often do not testify at their own trials as it can potentially open them up to cross-examination by the prosecution that can prove to be risky.

Many legal analysts are anticipating that her lawyers will try to raise questions about Holmes’ knowledge and overall intentions during the alleged scheme. In order to effectively convict Holmes of fraud they believe, the prosecution will have to prove her intent at the time. The defense has already looked to limit the amount of evidence in the trial and has been unsuccessful at doing so. Judge Davalia has ruled that jurors can hear about complaints from patients on faulty test results and about a critical U.S. government report following an inspection of a Theranos facility in 2016.