Three years after Elizabeth Holmes, Ramesh Balwani (aka Sunny) Balwani were indicted for trying to raise hundreds of million of dollars to develop and market a blood-testing system that did not exist, Holmes’ trial is finally over.
The first round of jury selection will begin Tuesday in San Jose, California. After that, the trial will commence on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and will continue for four more months, until Balwani’s trial begins in January 2022.
Holmes and Balwani, the CEO and chief operating officers of Theranos, a defunct diagnostics startup, are facing nine counts each of wire fraud and two of conspiracy to commit fraud. These charges can lead to a maximum sentence exceeding 20 years imprisonment and fines up to $250,000, plus restitution. Both have pleaded guilty to all charges.
The trial began years after the original date was set. It was delayed to allow the defense more time to prepare. Next, it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the trial started in March to allow Holmes to give birth in March to her first child with Billy Evans, a hospitality heir, whom Holmes is believed to have secretly married in 2019.
Throughout Holmes’ trial, federal prosecutors will draw from a list (PDF) of hundreds of possible witnesses, including high-profile Theranos backers like Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch and former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis. In total, the company’s investors are estimated to have lost more than $600 million.
Also expected to take the stand are several individuals who actually underwent testing with the company’s faulty technology, resulting in what they say were misdiagnoses of HIV, miscarriages and more.
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Holmes’ defense will, however, focus on convincing jurors her claims to investors, patients, and corporate partners like Walgreens–that her benchtop Edison testing machine could run hundreds of assays with just a few drops blood when in reality the company had failed to develop the technology–are not evidence that Holmes committed fraud but rather the optimism of an ambitious startup leader.
In addition, according to newly unsealed court documents obtained, Holmes will allege that Balwani, her semi-secret boyfriend throughout Theranos’ reign in Silicon Valley, was physically and emotionally abusive. Holmes’ legal team stated that she claimed that her mental state and decision-making ability were severely affected by the alleged manipulation and abuse during her tenure at Theranos. These conditions have since led to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues. Balwani denies the allegations of abuse.