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SAN JOSE, Calif. — The fifth week of testing Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood testing start-up Theranos, offered only brief moments of drama amid long stretches of technical tedium.
Ms Holmes is fighting 12 counts of fraud for her role in making Theranos a $9 billion company that collapsed when it was discovered her blood tests weren’t working. He has pleaded not guilty; If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Ms. Holmes’ reputation as a technical and business prodigy – and intense interest in her downfall – has turned the lawsuit into a media spectacle. But a month later, the specifics of the case, which depend on whether Ms Holmes intended to mislead investors, has begun to drag on.
While the test usually takes place three days a week, Friday’s session was canceled for Columbus Day. Here are the takeaways from the week.
Adam Rosendorff, who was Theranos’ laboratory director in 2013 and 2014, testified for six days about highly technical elements of the company’s inner workings. The jury members’ eyes lit up on an elaborate discussion of immulite reagents, Advia machines, immunoassays, vacutainers, and terms such as QC (quality control) and hCG (a hormone test).
Even Judge Edward Davila, who was generally reserved and patriotic, expressed displeasure over whether Dr. Rosendorff may be questioned about the investigation into the companies he worked for after Theranos. The defense already had four days to pierce Dr. Rosendorff’s testimony, Judge Davila said.
Despite the tediousness, Dr. Rosendorff’s testimony was crucial to the prosecution’s case. He described Theranos’ repeated instances of irregular and inaccurate results in blood tests, which he said made him uncomfortable and eventually prompted him to quit. He said he left because he wanted to join “a prestigious company whose mission I believed in.”
Ms. Holmes’ attorney, Lance Wade, attacked Dr. Rosendorff’s testimony by distorting that narrative. When Mr. Wade noted that Theranos’ initial offering was only a “soft launch” to friends and family, downplaying any issues with the blood test, Dr. Rosendorff did not budge. “They are patients,” he said.
“It was a soft launch for friends and family,” reiterated Mr. Wade.
“It was a patient launch,” said Dr. Rosendorff.
Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of blood testing start-up Theranos, is facing trial for two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.
Here are some key figures in this matter →
The jurors were stunned.
On Wednesday morning, before the proceedings, Judge Davila called a jury member into the courtroom to discuss Buddhism. The juror, an older Asian woman, said she became more and more distressed about the trial. That said, her Buddhist practice is focused on love and forgiveness, and it would be difficult for her to vote to blame Ms. Holmes. The jury said she could not follow the judge’s instructions to avoid thinking about punishment.
“What if he had to stay there for a long, long time,” she said, her voice cracking. The juror said she would blame herself.
Lawyers for both sides agreed to sack him.
The replacement juror, a young woman, had concerns of her own. English was not his first language, she said. “This is her future,” she said of Ms. Holmes. “I could have made a mistake.”
The jury said it had understood all the proceedings so far. Judge Davila did not let him go.
Putting the jury together is the bigger of a four-month trial. Earlier in the week, a jury member was dismissed after learning that his job would not compensate him for the time. Each day, Judge Davila asked the jurors if they had been exposed to any media coverage that might influence their views.
Epidemics are also a risk. Even though all jurors are vaccinated and wear masks, the trial was canceled the day before a jury member’s possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Three alternate jurors remain.
The former CEO of Safeway begins his testimony.
Steve Bird, the former chief executive of Safeway, began telling the story of Safeway’s partnership with Theranos on Wednesday, which eventually settled.
Mr. Bird met Ms. Holmes in 2011 and was immediately impressed. He described the promises Theranos made about the technology, testifying that he was excited to bring faster and cheaper blood tests to Safeway’s grocery stores. He said people could shop for groceries while they waited for their results and pick up their prescriptions at Safeway’s pharmacies.
The companies made a deal for Safeway to invest up to $85 million in Theranos, buy its equipment, and more. The talks were all done directly with Ms Holmes, with no lawyer present, with Mr Bird saying he found the move “unusual”.
His testimony continues next week.
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