Elizabeth Holmes trial: what we learned this week
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The DeVos family invested in the startup in 2014 through its family office, RDV Corp, after a family member had a blood test. Lisa Peterson, chief executive of RDV who helped verify the deal, testified about the investment – and due to a jury dispute and a plumbing issue, she was also the only one witness presented this week.
Holmes, once hailed as the next Steve Jobs, faces a dozen federal fraud charges over allegations she knowingly misled 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.
Holmes targeted wealthy families
Peterson said she asked to work on the Theranos deal after hearing about the company for the first time from RDV CEO Jerry Tubergen, who met Holmes and his brother at a conference. Tubergen’s enthusiasm for Holmes was evident in an email sent to members of the DeVos family. “This morning I had one of the most interesting meetings I can remember with women [sic] featured in the attached Fortune magazine article, ”Tubergen wrote in the email, which was shown in court.
Peterson, Tubergen and three members of the DeVos family visited Theranos headquarters in October 2014 before investing $ 100 million, double the amount they had originally planned. Peterson said that there Cheri DeVos had her blood drawn by a finger prick.
Jurors get a closer look at Elizabeth Holmes
While it’s still not clear whether jurors will hear from Holmes herself once the defense has its turn to present witnesses, they take a closer look at how she presented herself and the business in her own words.
Last week, the jury heard audio clips of Holmes during an investor appeal – the first time they heard his infamous voice. This week, they saw television interviews Holmes gave after the Wall Street Journal’s initial investigation into Theranos.
A long delayed trial cannot take a break …
The pandemic and Holmes’ pregnancy have repeatedly delayed the trial. This week, there was another unexpected heist: a pipeline burst near the federal courthouse in San Jose, leaving the building without water. The court was ordered to leave the building.
The incident came as Judge Edward Davila added additional court days to move matters forward as the trial – originally slated to run for three to fourth months – is set to enter its third month. When soliciting jurors’ concerns about the schedule additions, a deputy juror said he would try to accommodate if he was the only one having difficulty, but noted that it “was getting difficult for me. Work timetable”.
… and neither do journalists covering the trial
Another impending drama hit the Holmes trial: the strain on loud typewriters.
Judge Davila has repeatedly expressed his frustration on behalf of one or more members of the jury over the loud keystrokes emanating from the small but powerful group of reporters who show up with their laptops day in and day out. The strike becomes more and more visible when reporters document the same juicy bits in tandem. On Tuesday, the judge again warned reporters that only “silent keyboards” were allowed in the room. The judge said if he receives another complaint he should send “anyone who wants to bang” into the overflow room. He made it clear that it is not fair to the government or Holmes if the jury cannot focus.
This marks another hurdle for journalists covering the high-profile trial given that cameras and recording devices are not allowed. And while the judge asked reporters to watch themselves, an American marshal stood in the corner of the courtroom at various times of the day to spot the noisy typewriter (s).
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