Opening statements in the case of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood test startup Theranos, will begin in San Jose, California, on Wednesday morning, kicking off one of the most anticipated trials in the Valley. Silicon Valley.
Ms Holmes, 37, has been charged with 12 counts of telephone fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with the money she raised for Theranos.
A jury will decide whether Holmes, who founded Theranos in 2003 and on a mission to revolutionize healthcare, lied to investors about her company’s technology.
Ms. Holmes claims Theranos’ machine, called the Edison, can quickly conduct a series of blood tests with just a single drop of blood. The US has accused Ms Holmes of knowing that the tests are limited and unreliable, harming patients who rely on them. Prosecutors also said she overstated Theranos’ business dealings and performance.
Former Theranos chairman Ramesh Balwani, better known as Sunny, is on trial in a separate case scheduled to begin next year. Neither Ms Holmes nor Mr Balwani pleaded guilty. Judge Edward Davila of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California presided over the case.
If convicted, Holmes could face up to 20 years in prison, which would make her one of the few Silicon Valley executives accused of wrongdoing that will go to jail.
The trial dragged on years of delays and legal wrangling over everything from which emails and arguments could be used to see if Ms Holmes was required to wear a mask while sitting in the courtroom.
Last week, a jury of seven men and five women was sworn in after eliminating many potential jurors who had heard of Ms Holmes, had direct experience of domestic abuse or had scheduling issues for the three-month trial.
Holmes’ lawyers have indicated they could use mental health defense, arguing that Mr Balwani, whom she dated, had emotionally and physically abused her, which prevented her intend to deceive. Mr. Balwani has denied the allegations. Ms Holmes’s lawyers have also indicated in court filings that she is likely to stand her ground.
In court documents filed over the weekend, prosecutors listed more than 200 potential witnesses including David Boies, a former attorney for Theranos; Henry Kissinger, who sits on the board of Theranos; James Mattis, former secretary of defense and director of Theranos; and Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who backed Theranos and was part of a lawsuit over its downfall. Some names are displayed as initials.
Ms. Holmes’s lawyers have listed more than 60 witnesses, including several US attorneys, on the case; John Carreyrou, a reporter and author of a book on Theranos; William Frist, a former US Senator who sat on the Theranos board; and Miss Holmes.
In a separate filing, Ms Holmes’s attorney also asked that the testimony of three former Theranos employees be excluded. One of the witnesses, Erika Cheung, worked in Theranos’ lab and reported problems with its blood test to federal regulators. Holmes’s lawyers argued that various parts of Cheung’s testimony would be unrelated, based on rumours or not directly related to Holmes.
Holmes’s lawyers also asked that the testimony of Daniel Edlin, a former project manager at the firm, be excluded, and Danise Yam, who controlled Theranos’ company for 11 years.
Prosecutors responded with exhibits that supported Ms. Cheung’s claims. On Tuesday, Judge Davila ordered that such exclusion would be “too early” before hearing the government’s questions or arguments.