- The first week of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial is now complete.
- It included jury selection, opening statements, released text messages, and an unexpected delay.
- Here’s everything that happened in the trial this past week.
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Jury selection began August 31. Weeks earlier, 240 potential jurors filled out a 28-page questionnaire to weed out anyone with biases that might affect their judgment in the case. Roughly half were later brought into the San Jose courthouse where the trial is taking place for further questioning. Seven men and five women were ultimately chosen as jurors. Five additional people are alternates.
The prosecution’s opening statements
The trial kicked off Wednesday with opening statements. Assistant US attorney Robert Leach argued that Holmes was desperate to keep Theranos above water as money began to dry up, so she lied to investors to raise money. He also said Holmes was always in control, countering Holmes’ plans to accuse former Theranos president and COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani of controlling her at the time she is accused of misrepresenting Theranos’ abilities. Besides their professional relationship, Balwani and Holmes dated during their time there.
Here are a few highlights from Leach’s speech:
- “This case is about fraud, about lying, and about cheating to get money.”
- “Out of time and out of money, Elizabeth Holmes decided to lie.”
- “She controlled it. The buck stopped with her. She sweated the details. She called the shots.”
The defense’s opening statements
Lance Wade, an attorney at law firm Williams & Connolly, gave the opening statement for the defense. He argued that Holmes made human mistakes at the helm of Theranos, but they didn’t constitute crimes.
Here are a few highlights from Wade’s speech:
- “Elizabeth Holmes worked herself to the bone for 15 years trying to make lab testing cheaper and more accessible. She poured her heart and her soul into that effort.”
- “In the end, Theranos failed, and Miss Holmes walked away with nothing. But failure is not a crime. Trying your hardest and coming up short is not a crime. The villain the government just described is a living, breathing human being who did her best every day and is innocent.”
- “She passed on every opportunity to sell. On chances to make hundreds of millions of dollars. She was motivated by mission, not money.”
The first witness called
Prosecutors asked former Theranos financial controller So Han Spivey, who also goes by Danise Yam, to take the stand. Yam worked at Theranos from 2006 to 2017 and testified that the now-defunct startup went years without having a financial audit. She also described a period in 2009 when she says she had to “pick and choose” which vendors to pay because Theranos struggled to make payroll for them.
Yam’s testimony follows prosecutors’ recent move to file a document showing Theranos shelled out $US28.6 ($AU39) million to vendors from March 2015 to February 2016. There are more than 200 people listed as potential witnesses in the case, including Holmes herself.
Another delay in the trial
Trial proceedings were supposed to continue Friday but were postponed after a juror said he might have been exposed to COVID-19. The trial will resume Tuesday. It had previously been delayed several times, for reasons including COVID-19 challenges and Holmes’ pregnancy earlier this year.
On Tuesday, prosecutors released six pages of texts between Holmes and Balwani that could threaten Holmes’ plans to accuse Balwani of abuse as part of her defense strategy. The following day, a handful of apparent Holmes fans showed up at the trial dressed in her signature style, wearing all black with their hair in messy buns.