Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of the now-defunct health technology company Theranos on trial for conspiracy and fraud, plans to argue that she was a victim of abuse. According to newly unsealed court documents, Holmes’ lawyers said Balwani physically and emotionally abused her to the point that it affected her mental state when the alleged fraud occurred.
Given that Holmes is best known for claiming she invented a made-up technology, getting a jury to believe her defense may be a tall order. Her trial started Wednesday, and federal prosecutors wasted no time in calling her a liar and cheat.
“This is a case about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money,” said Assistant US Attorney Robert Leach. “It’s a crime on Main Street, and it’s a crime in Silicon Valley.”
Holmes’ legal team laid the groundwork for her defense by arguing to the jury that she was naive, distracted by her work, and manipulated by an abusive partner.
“There was another side of Ms. Holmes’ relationship with Mr. Balwani that the public never saw,” defense lawyer Lance Wade said.
Balwani faces a separate trial early next year.