Holmes, once hailed as the next Steve Jobs, faces a dozen federal fraud charges over allegations that she knowingly mislead investors, doctors, and patients about her company’s blood testing capabilities in order to take their money. Holmes has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison.
The trial took place only two days this week, instead of the usual three. But there was no shortage of notable events in the San Jose federal courtroom where the trial is underway.
He compared her to the four US presidents he’s met in terms of her ability to command a room. “There are very few people that I’ve met in business that I would actually say were charismatic,” said Burd. “She was clearly charismatic. She was very smart.”
Witnesses stressed Holmes was ultimately in charge
Burd testified that it was Holmes who was in charge, even when the company’s chief operating officer and president, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was in meetings. (Balwani faces a separate trial for the same charges as Holmes and has also pleaded not guilty.)
Burd said Holmes “never looked over” to gauge Balwani’s response to questions. Burd also said he was unaware that Holmes and Balwani were romantically involved — something the two kept secret — which he said in retrospect raised the question of what else may have been hidden. He also testified that Holmes negotiated Theranos’ deal with Safeway with no attorney present, which he said was unusual.
A second juror is excused from the case
One member of the 12-person jury was excused on Wednesday after expressing anxiety and conflict with her religious beliefs as a Buddhist pertaining to the issue of forgiveness and any possible sentencing or punishment that may result from how she votes on the trial.
An alternate juror was tapped to replace her — but that juror, too, expressed some concern regarding possibly sentencing Holmes, who started Theranos at age 19 and is now 37, because she is very young. She also said “English is not my first language, I could make a mistake.”
The juror was reminded by the judge that any punishment is not for her to determine and the defense and prosecution opted to have her serve.