Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of blood testing and life science company Theranos, arrives on August 31, 2021 for the first day of jury selection in her federal fraud trial in San Jose, California.
Nick Otto | AFP | Getty Images
SAN JOSE, California – A jury of seven men and five women will decide the fate of Theranos founder and ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
The 12-person panel was selected after two days of intensive questioning about its knowledge of the failed blood test company. If convicted, Holmes faces 20 years imprisonment
Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on different jurors based on race, gender and age. Along with five deputies – two men and three women – the jury was sworn in on Thursday morning in federal court in San Jose, California. Opening statements are due to begin on Wednesday.
Holmes, who was a paper billionaire because of her stake in Theranos, faces dozens of wire fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly cheating investors and patients out of her company’s technology. She has pleaded not guilty and denies any wrongdoing.
Holmes left Stanford in 2003 to start Theranos at the age of 19. She raised billions of dollars from investors like media mogul Rupert Murdoch, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and the Walton family. Some investors are expected to testify in the process.
The company’s demise began in 2015 when former Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou published a series of scathing articles exposing Theranos’ dubious business practices and technological limitations.
During questioning by the jury, U.S. District Court judge Edward Davila, presiding over the trial, reminded potential jurors of the importance of avoiding media, a particular challenge for a case that is drawing widespread attention in Silicon Valley and around the world Has.
One juror, an elderly white man, said “Oh boy” after his name was called to enter the jury box.
“Let’s be clear, you know that the media are interested in this case,” Davila said in court on Wednesday. He repeatedly asked the jury to “turn off these news feeds.”
The two days of jury selection were sometimes tense and dramatic, with dozens of potential jurors saying they already knew Holmes and Theranos. Some even expressed disappointment on learning of Holmes’ spectacular fall from grace.
“There aren’t that many women who become CEOs of a high-profile company,” a prospective judge who read Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood told Davila on Tuesday.
Another potential male juror said he followed Theranos during his ascent, admitting that he was “disappointed because I thought the company was so cool”.
Some of the respondents even got emotional when they shared harrowing experiences of domestic violence. That was after newly unsealed documents revealed that Holmes plans to have an expert testify that Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and former COO of Theranos, exposed her to intimate partner abuse.
Balwani denies the allegations. He will be tried separately for his role in the Theranos scandal.
SEE: The outcome of the trial will depend on Holmes’ defense as the friend’s puppet