SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Elizabeth Holmes showed up at court in good spirits, smiling and appearing to be pregnant, for an evidentiary hearing Monday during which her attorneys attempted to convince a judge that she deserves a new fraud trial.
Defense attorneys are fighting to have Holmes’ conviction thrown out by claiming that the prosecution’s star witnesses, former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff, did not testify truthfully at her 2021 trial. Rosendorff was pressured and “manipulated” by prosecutors to throw Holmes under the bus with blame, the defense argued. Rosendorff strongly denied the defense’s claims and asserted, “I testified truthfully and honestly.”
Ten months have passed since a jury found the ex-Theranos CEO guilty of defrauding her Silicon Valley biotech company’s investors out of millions of dollars. Holmes lied about her company’s so-called “revolutionary” blood testing technology that she claimed could run any blood test from just a few drops of blood.
She has yet to spend a single day in prison, however.
Holmes, 38, of Woodside, has remained out of custody since she was convicted January 3. The mother of one — and apparently soon-to-be mother of two — has stayed out of the spotlight and quietly continued living in a Woodside mansion with her partner, Billy Evans, and their child.
Holmes is facing up to 20 years in federal prison. Her original sentencing hearing was supposed to happen in September, but her attorneys delayed the sentencing through filing several appeals.
Under California law, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila is not supposed to take into consideration a personal factor such as a pregnancy when he decides how long Holmes deserves to spend in prison. But with a federal jury’s conviction for fraud and conspiracy, Holmes could be trying any last-resort measures possible, trial observers said.
Anne Kopf-Sill, who attended every day of Holmes’ trial and worked in the biotech industry, said Holmes appears to be between five to seven months pregnant.
“I think she is hoping to get a lighter sentence. Everyone feels sorry for children that have to grow up without both parents. Even though they may be unsympathetic to Elizabeth … there still is feeling for doing something for innocent children,” Kopf-Sill told KRON4 outside the courtroom.
Rosendorff was the sole witness called back to the stand on Monday. His credibility as a witness is under fire from Holmes’ defense attorneys after he made a bizarre, unexpected visit to Holmes’ Woodside mansion in August.
Rosendorff rang Holmes’ doorbell on August 8 with hopes of finding closure by talking to his former boss face-to-face, he testified. In court documents, Holmes’ attorneys claimed the former Theranos lab director look “disheveled” and “desperate” standing at her front door.
Holmes was once the youngest self-made billionaire in America. The Stanford University dropout founded her startup company in 2003 in Palo Alto with dreams of becoming the next Steve Jobs. The downfall of her unicorn startup company was chronicled in popular documentaries starring Hollywood celebrities.
Rosendorff was one of the whistleblowers who anonymously leaked information to the Wall Street Journal and blew the Theranos scandal open in 2015. Halfway through Holmes’ trial, former WSJ reporter John Carreyrou revealed that Rosendorff was his “Deep Throat.”
During Holmes’ trial, Rosendorff testified that he left his job at Theranos because of concerns over patients receiving erroneous blood test results. “Over time, I came to realize the company really valued PR and fundraising above patient care,” he testified.
With Rosendorff back on the witness stand Monday, defense attorney Lance Wade grilled him over his mental health and probed into why he tried to visit Holmes in August.
Rosendorff answered, “In the weeks and months following Elizabeth Holmes’ conviction, I felt increasingly distressed that a young child would spend the only years of their (childhood) without their mother. I learned that Ms. Holmes may be pregnant again.”
Wade asked Rosendorff, what was the purpose of his strange visit? Rosendorff testified that he wanted to “finally put the saga behind me, and move on with my life.”
Wade asked, “Were you emotionally struggling?” Rosendorff replied, “Sir, I think we all have had our emotional struggles.”
But Rosendorff was never able to speak to Holmes. When he rang the doorbell, Evans answered the door and they had a 10-minute conversation. “I remember speaking to Evans about how we both had young kids, the sadness I felt that his kids would grow up without a mom. I have my own 5-year-old child,” Rosendorff testified.
Rosendorff said he left the Woodside estate and never tried to contact Holmes again because he realized that talking to her would not achieve any personal closure.
Rosendorff repeatedly asserted that he never lied during his two weeks of testifying for Holmes’ trial. “You are making me out to be a liar. My statements have always reflected the truth,” Rosendorff told Wade.
On cross-examination, prosecutors tried to hammer-in the fact Rosendorff was a truthful witness. Prosecutor John Bostic asked why the former lab director agreed to testify for Holmes’ trial. “To fully cooperate with the United States government in the interest of justice,” Rosendorff answered.
“Were you truthful and honest to the best of your ability?” Bostic asked. Rosendorff answered, “Yes.”
“Did you understand … that you were under oath to tell the truth?” Bostic asked. “Yes,” Rosendorff answered.
“Do you still stand by your testimony in every respect?” Bostic asked. “Yes I do,” Rosendorff replied.
Wade asked the ex-lab director, “At times you were not given the opportunity to give the whole story of what happened at Theranos. The government was trying to make Ms. Holmes look bad, right?” Rosendorff answered, “No.”
Wade asked many questions about Rosendorff’s mental stability leading up to, during, and after the trial.
“Do you recall the difficultly of being a whistleblower? You talked about having a mental breakdown and needing to be hospitalized. (Is it true) you needed medication and went off the medication just before the trial began?” Wade asked.
“This this line of questioning is invasive and inappropriate,” Rosendorff shot back. He invoked his medical rights to privacy under HIPPA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
In court documents, Evans wrote about his front-door encounter with Rosendorff. “I told him … he needed to leave. He said he thought it would be healing for both himself and Elizabeth to talk. He said he feels guilty. He said when he was called as a witness he tried to answer the questions honestly but that the prosecutors tried to make everybody look bad (in the company). He said he felt like he had done something wrong,” Evans wrote.
On Monday, however, Rosendorff said he was not trying to “help” Holmes before she was sentenced to prison. “At this point she needs to pay her debt to society,” he added.
Theranos’ chief operation officer and Holmes’ ex-boyfriend, Sunny Balwani, was convicted by a separate jury on 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy earlier this year. Holmes was convicted on four counts. They are both scheduled to be sentenced in November.
After Rosendorff’s testimony wrapped up on Monday and people were filing out of the courtroom gallery, Holmes kissed Evans and smiled at the father of her children.
Judge Davila did not make a ruling over whether Holmes will be granted a new trial. Defense attorneys and prosecutors have one more week to file arguments in supplemental briefs before a ruling is made.