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On Thursday, Elizabeth Holmes was seen exiting the courtroom. Ms. Holmes is accused of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and deceiving physicians and patients. Credit… Associated Press/Nic Coury
On Friday, closing arguments in Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial were anticipated to conclude, bringing the months-long tale closer to a conclusion.
Ms. Holmes, the founder of Theranos, is accused of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and deceiving patients and physicians. Theranos climbed to prominence, reaching a value of $9 billion before collapsing in 2018 when it was found that the company’s blood tests did not operate as Ms. Holmes claimed.
Jurors — eight men and four women — will begin discussing whether Ms. Holmes committed 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to conduct wire fraud after closing remarks and jury instructions are delivered. Ms. Holmes has pleaded not guilty to the charges. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, which could send shockwaves across Silicon Valley’s freewheeling startup scene.
Prosecutors presented more than three months of evidence in their final statements on Thursday, rebutting some of Ms. Holmes’s attorneys’ allegations. According to Jeffrey Schenk, an assistant US attorney and the case’s main prosecutor, the government agreed with Ms. Holmes that company failure was not a crime in and of itself. When Theranos ran out of cash in 2009 and 2010, he added, “she chose deception over business failure.”
Mr. Schenk also addressed Ms. Holmes’ allegations of abuse against Ramesh Balwani, commonly known as Sunny, her former business partner and lover. Ms. Holmes’ emotional testimony about their hostile and dominant relationship was unrelated to the fraud case, according to Ms. Schenk.
“It’s about making fraudulent representations to investors and dishonest statements to patients,” he said. “You don’t have to wonder whether that abuse occurred.”
Ms. Holmes’ lawyer, Kevin Downey, began the first two hours of her last defense by stressing a fundamental argument made by her camp repeatedly: the scenario is significantly more difficult than the prosecution have made it out to be.
Mr. Downey cited examples of times when the government’s evidence, he said, did not tell the whole picture. Several slides discussed “missing witnesses” who were not summoned by the government, while others dissected Ms. Holmes’ interpretation of the term “accuracy.”
“The government is portraying an incident that seems to be horrible, but when all the information is considered, it isn’t that bad,” Mr. Downey said.
Mr. Downey underscored that jurors must be certain to convict while introducing a sense of ambiguity into the government’s story. He displayed an illustration of an eight-step ladder going up to the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which jurors must achieve in order to return a guilty judgment. The top step, which symbolized guilt, was left blank.
On Friday, Judge Edward Davila of the Northern District of California was slated to provide thorough jury instructions, which would be followed by further testimony from Mr. Downey.
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