Jurors in Elizabeth Holmes trial seem deadlocked on some charges

SAN JOSE, Calif .– Jurors in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood testing startup Theranos, reiterated Monday evening that they had failed to agree on three of the 11 charges in his fraud case after being previously instructed by the judge to continue.

The jury of eight men and four women spent more than 46 hours over seven days determining whether Ms Holmes, 37, is guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud . Each count of fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The deliberations follow a more than three-month trial for Ms Holmes that exposed the worst excesses of start-up culture in Silicon Valley, where founders routinely stretch the truth in search of fortune and fame . Yet entrepreneurs rarely take their exaggerations as far as Ms. Holmes did and are often not prosecuted. Ms Holmes took inspiration from Steve Jobs and said she plans to revolutionize healthcare with her start-up.

On Monday morning, jurors sent a memo saying they were deadlocked on three of the charges. They did not specify which of the charges were involved. Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California, who is overseeing the case, has asked them to continue their deliberations. In the afternoon, the jury returned with a second note saying they could not reach a verdict on all three counts after trying again.

Jurors had not asked any questions in court since December 23, when they asked to listen to audio recordings in which Ms Holmes allegedly misled investors about Theranos’ business dealings. They also asked to take the jury’s instructions home, which the court refused.

If the jury is unable to reach a verdict on all the counts, Judge Davila could accept a verdict on the counts they agree on, defense attorney Andrew George said. in white collar at the firm Baker Botts. This would mean Ms Holmes could be retried on all three counts.

But a new trial is less likely if she is convicted of the other charges, Mr. George said. “The government will have won,” he said.

He added that a partial verdict was not ideal in a long trial because “it is unsatisfactory for everyone involved” but “the nightmare of a total overturning of the trial is highly unlikely”.

Ms Holmes’ trial stood out for its length and winding pace. Judge Davila allowed her lawyers to grill certain witnesses for days and engaged in lengthy procedural debates that delayed many days of testimony.

Since Ms. Holmes’ trial began in September, a number of significant criminal trials, including those of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan Jr., which killed Ahmaud Arbery; Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot dead three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020; and Kim Potter, the police officer who killed Daunte Wright, have come and gone. Last week, a jury found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of conspiring with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to recruit, treat and sexually assault underage girls.

It is not unusual for deliberations in white-collar trials to be lengthy, especially in complex fraud cases in which defendants are charged with multiple counts that span several years.

In 2007, a jury took 12 days to convict Conrad Black, a press mogul, of fraud after a 14-week trial involving 13 counts. Martin Shkreli, the infamous former hedge fund manager, was convicted of securities fraud after five days of deliberation in 2017 after a five-week trial.

In Ms Holmes’ case, the jury must sift through 14 weeks of testimony and over 900 pieces of evidence to decide whether Ms Holmes intentionally deceived investors, patients and advertisers into seeking investments and business for his blood testing start-up. .

Ms. Holmes founded Theranos in 2003. She left Stanford in 2004 and spent the next decade raising nearly $ 1 billion from investors and signing contracts with Walgreens and Safeway.

But the Wall Street Journal found in 2015 that Theranos ‘blood testers could only perform a dozen tests, contrary to Ms. Holmes’ claims of more than 1,000 to investors, business partners and the public. Theranos officially closed in 2018 amid a scandal.

Prosecutors called 29 witnesses as they tried to prove that Ms Holmes “chose fraud over bankruptcy,” as Jeff Schenk, a deputy US attorney, said during oral argument.

The defense evidence was based primarily on Ms. Holmes’ own testimony. She said she believed her own claims and blamed her senior employees, including Ramesh Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and former COO of Theranos. Mr. Balwani, who faces identical charges, is due to stand trial from February.

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