Holmes faces 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud over allegations that she knowingly misled investors by claiming Theranos technology could revolutionize blood testing. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In the months leading up to the trial, the prosecution and defense have haggled with U.S. District Judge Edward Davila over the inclusion of evidence. Prosecuting attorneys want to present evidence that they say shows Holmes’ desire for recognition and wealth motivated her to lie about the capabilities of Theranos’ technology to detect disease through one drop of blood. Both sides have traded blame over the loss of a Theranos database that would have shown the level of inaccurate blood-testing results.
More recently, court filings that were unsealed on August 28 suggest defense attorneys plan to defend Holmes by accusing Sunny Balwani — Theranos’ former president and chief operating officer, as well as Holmes’ former romantic partner — of emotional and psychological abuse, Reuters reports. Balwani has denied the allegations.
The assistant U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case filed a proposed witness list of nearly 280 people, CNN reports, including former Theranos board members Henry Kissinger and James Mattis. Also potentially facing the witness stand is Rupert Murdoch, who is among the company’s lengthy list of high-profile investors, which includes the family of late Walmart founder Sam Walton, former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family, and many more.
Holmes and Theranos were once believed to be the next shining stars of Silicon Valley. Holmes claimed her company would revolutionize blood testing with technology that could analyze tiny amounts of blood and inked retail partnerships with Walgreens and Safeway. Forbes in 2015 recognized Holmes as America’s richest self-made woman based on Theranos’ multibillion-dollar valuation at the time.
Investigative reporting soon dismantled Holmes’ technological claims, raising questions about whether she and others misled investors. The downward spiral culminated in the 2018 shutdown of the company, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission criminally charging Holmes and Balwani for what it described as a “massive fraud.”
Balwani’s trial is expected to follow the Holmes trial.