SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — For a woman who dreamed of becoming the next Steve Jobs, it can’t be easy for Elizabeth Holmes’ psyche as she sits in silence through a 3-month fraud trial.
The prosecution has a list of over 200 witnesses who could be hauled into the courtroom. Nine witnesses have testified so far, laying out all the ways Holmes was a failure as an entrepreneur, healthcare innovator, and boss.
“Failure is not a crime. Trying your hardest and coming up short is not a crime,” defense attorney Lance Wade told the jury.
Prosecutors say Holmes wasn’t merely a failure — she was a fraud.
Holmes, 37, pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy. Prosecutors said she defrauded patients, doctors, and investors in her quest to become rich and famous.
Holmes has maintained complete courtroom composure. She sits with perfect posture, never resting her back against her chair. Reporters have kept a sharp eye out for any emotional reaction from Holmes, but she’s always stone-faced.
Legal analysts say Holmes could break her silence during the trial by getting on the witness stand and testifying in self-defense.
“It would be the biggest gamble of her life,” legal analyst and prosecutor Michele Hagan told KRON4.
Holmes had a talent for charming powerful investors and politicians. Can she charm the jury?
Holmes was an ambitious Stanford University student with a vision of revolutionizing healthcare. She was so confident that she dropped out of Stanford University and founded a biotech company, Theranos, at age 19.
In 2014, Holmes was on top of the world. She achieved fame and adoration after claiming she had invented technology that could deliver faster and cheaper blood test results
from a single drop of blood.
Magazines including Fortune and Forbes made Holmes a cover girl. For her Forbes cover shot, Holmes wore a black turtleneck, mirroring the look of Steve Jobs.
She wooed sophisticated and powerful investors to roll the dice on Theranos, and before long, she was America’s youngest self-made billionaire.
Medical professionals in the diagnostics field slowly began questioning if Theranos’ technology really could do what Holmes claimed. Doctors noticed that their longtime patients’ blood test results from Theranos were way off. Holmes held her cards close to her vest, saying she saw no reason to give away “trade secrets” to competitors.
“Whenever she was asked at science conferences or panels, she always responded, ‘it’s trade secrets, I can’t discuss it,” Hagan said.
Theranos employees who worked in the blood lab were not allowed to talk to their co-workers in the research and development lab, lab tech Erika Cheung testified.
Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff testified that he joined Holmes’ team for the “excitement around Silicon Valley,” “I wanted to make a global impact on healthcare,” and he thought Theranos would become the next Apple.
Rosendorff said he quickly discovered that Theranos cared more about its public image, raising money, and keeping secrets than helping patients.
Rosendorff testified that he began forwarding emails in 2014 to his private email account — violating company policy — in case the lab ever came under fire from investigators.
“I wanted to protect myself … in the event of an investigation,” Rosendorff testified.
In court Thursday, defense attorney Lance Wade held up Steve Jobs biography book to talk about how Jobs operated as CEO of Apple.
“Mr. Jobs spent a lot of time on marketing and advertising,” Wade said while cross-examining Rosendorff.
Jobs upheld “intense secrecy” around new products as they were being developed, Wade said.
By 2015, Silicon Valley’s golden girl saw her dreams turn into a nightmare.
An investigative series by the Wall Street Journal blew the cover off Holmes’ glittering image. Theranos’ secretive blood lab was investigated, its technology was exposed as dysfunctional, and Theranos was shuttered in 2018. Holmes walked away with nothing, according to her defense attorney.
In court, her defense team is trying to distance Holmes as much as possible from the company she founded.
Holmes’ trial was scheduled to last through December, but as Judge Edward Davila noted in court Thursday, “There is no time limit in a criminal case. There’s no game clock.”
Holmes, who recently gave birth to her first baby, is facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The judge’s “game clock” comments were spurred by the prosecution complaining that the defense’s cross-examination of Rosendorff was exceedingly long.
Wade said the defense’s cross-examination has been lengthy because Rosendorff tap dances around questions. Rosendorff has been the trial’s most prickly witness. The defense is trying to shift blame from Holmes to Rosendorff, saying he was the person legally responsible for failures in Theranos’ blood lab.
Rosendorff has been on the stand for three days. He’s slated to still be on the stand Friday and next Tuesday.
Once the Rosendorff saga ends, Hagan said prosecutors may call on journalists to testify next. John Carreyrou, the author of “Bad Blood,” is on the witness list.
Carreyrou has recently revealed a few secrets of his own that he’s held since his explosive investigation into Theranos was published in the Wall Street Journal in 2015.
He tweeted earlier this week, “So, I’ve been fielding queries from reporters asking me to confirm that former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff, who is currently testifying at Elizabeth Holmes’s trial, was my source. I can now confirm it. Alan Beam = Adam Rosendorff. Adam was my first and most important source. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to break the Theranos story. Hats off to his courage and integrity. He’s one of the real heroes of this story.”
Another formerly confidential source for Carreyrou, whistleblower Tyler Shultz, is also expected to testify in the weeks ahead.