The trial of Elizabeth Holmes: the founder of Theranos speaks out

Elizabeth Holmes appeared on the witness stand on Friday afternoon to defend herself against criminal fraud charges linked to the failure of Theranos Inc., the startup she founded when she dropped out of school at 19 .

Ms Holmes, who appeared calm and sometimes smiled, opened her testimony by discussing her vision as a freshman to change healthcare and the early successes at Theranos, which she founded in 2003 after dropping out. Stanford University.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes leaves the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building and the US Courthouse in San Jose, California on Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Holmes is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud (Jane Tyska / Digital First Media / The Mercury News via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“We have worked for years with teams of scientists and engineers to miniaturize all the technologies in the lab,” Ms. Holmes said. Theranos made a breakthrough in 2009 and 2010 when Ms Holmes and her team realized they could perform tests on very small blood samples, she said.


Ms Holmes’ testimony came hours after prosecutors said they had completed their case against her, deferring to defense attorneys. After the testimony of two other defense witnesses — a paralegal and a former board member of Theranos — Ms. Holmes took his turn in the witness stand about an hour before the court was scheduled to close for the day.

Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes (left) accompanies her mother Noel Holmes as they arrive for Elizabeth Holmes’ trial at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on November 17, 2021 in San Jose, California. Holmes faces con charges (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / Getty Images)

The defense aims to deliver a new narrative about Ms Holmes, whose story as a 19-year-old Stanford University dropout and founder of Theranos was the foundation for a popular book, movie and podcast .

Ms Holmes began speaking to jurors about her early days at Stanford University. She discussed the idea of ​​her first patent application, for a patch or pill that could deliver drugs in real time.


By the time she started her sophomore year, she was working on her idea almost full time rather than going to her classes. This partly contributed to her decision to give up, she said.

Ms Holmes spoke about her mentor at Stanford, Channing Robertson, who was skeptical of her idea at first but eventually backed it up and became the company’s first board member.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 28: Elizabeth Holmes, former founder and CEO of Theranos, arrives at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Federal Court on June 28, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / Getty Images)

In 2004, she was exploring how her ideas could benefit pharmaceutical companies.

“I met everyone I could who knew someone in the pharmaceutical industry or who was in the pharmaceutical industry to understand what they were doing and what would interest them,” she said.

First defense witness Trent Middleton, a paralegal with the law firm representing Ms Holmes, spent about an hour on the stand, explaining a parade of spreadsheets and documents illustrating Theranos’ operational and financial history. A spreadsheet had 311 columns of numbers.

The defense also called out Fabrizio Bonanni, a former member of Theranos’ board of directors. Her testimony will show that Ms Holmes made serious efforts to resolve the issues, her lawyers said in court, and that Theranos had made progress with her blood test technology that the prosecution failed to recognize.


During 11 weeks of testimony, prosecutors called 29 witnesses who portrayed Theranos as a company that broke the promise of its finger-prick blood test technology, meddled in patient health and has lost nearly a billion dollars of investor money along the way.

Prosecutors closed their case on Friday morning with testimony from a reporter who wrote a widely cited magazine cover story about Ms Holmes which was later retracted. Witnesses who have appeared since testimony began in September include former Theranos employees, investors, patients, doctors and scientists from pharmaceutical companies.

Prosecutors were forced to drop a fraud count on Friday because of an error in their indictment, which prevented an Arizona patient from being included in the case.

Jurors have heard a lot about Ms Holmes’ side before the defense even begins its defense. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Schenk said in arguments before the judge on Friday that a recent tally showed the defense had questioned witnesses for 65 hours of the trial, compared to 53 hours for the government.

“The defense has argued its case since the cross-examination” of the first witness, Mr. Schenk said.

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