Closing arguments in the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes were expected to finish on Friday, inching the monthslong saga closer to a verdict.
Ms. Holmes, who founded the blood testing start-up Theranos, is on trial for fleecing investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and misleading patients and doctors. Theranos rose to prominence, hitting a $9 billion valuation, before collapsing in 2018 after it was revealed that the company’s blood tests did not work as Ms. Holmes had claimed.
After closing arguments are completed and jury instructions are given, jurors — eight men and four women — will begin deliberating whether Ms. Holmes committed 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Ms. Holmes has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in jail, which could send shock waves through the freewheeling world of Silicon Valley start-ups.
On Thursday, prosecutors summarized more than three months of testimony in their closing arguments while rebutting some points made by Ms. Holmes’s lawyers. The government did not disagree with Ms. Holmes’s point that business failure, on its own, was not a crime, said Jeffrey Schenk, an assistant U.S. attorney and a lead prosecutor on the case. But when Theranos was running out of money in 2009 and 2010, “she chose fraud over business failure,” he said.
Mr. Schenk also addressed Ms. Holmes’s accusations of abuse against her former business partner and boyfriend, Ramesh Balwani, known as Sunny. Ms. Holmes’s emotional testimony about the abusive and domineering nature of their relationship was a separate issue from the fraud case, Ms. Schenk said.
“The case is about false statements made to investors and false statements made to patients,” he said. “You do not need to question whether that abuse happened.”
Kevin Downey, a lawyer for Ms. Holmes, also delivered the first two hours of her final defense by reiterating a key point her camp has repeatedly made: The situation is far more complicated than prosecutors have made it out to be.
Mr. Downey gave examples of instances where, he argued, the government’s evidence did not present the full story. Multiple slides referred to “missing witnesses” who were not called by the government and others parsed the intricacies of Ms. Holmes’s understanding of the word “accuracy.”
“The government is showing an event that looks bad, but at the end of the day, when all the evidence flows together, it isn’t so bad,” Mr. Downey said.
While injecting a level of confusion into the government’s narrative, Mr. Downey also stressed that jurors must be certain to convict. He showed an image of a staircase with eight steps leading up to “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which jurors must reach to deliver a guilty verdict. The top step, which represented guilt, was not labeled.
The proceedings on Friday were expected to begin with further statements from Mr. Downey, followed by detailed jury instructions delivered by Judge Edward Davila of the Northern District of California.