SAN JOSE (CBS SF/AP) — A jury of eight men and four women deliberating on the fate of Elizabeth Holmes re-listened to audio exhibits Thursday, including recordings of a call she had with Bryan Tolbert and others trying to convince them to invest in the blood-testing startup.
As Holmes sat at the defense table, Judge Edward Davila played the recordings for the jurors who then returned to their deliberations.READ MORE: Widow of Theranos Scientist Blames Elizabeth Holmes for Husband's Death
On the recordings, Holmes made several of the claims prosecutors say were deceptions use to defraud investors and at the heart of their case.
After nearly four months of testimony and 32 witnesses including Holmes herself, the jurors began deliberations on Monday and so far have spent about 18 hours wrestling with a verdict.
Once a promising startup worth in the neighborhood of $10 billion, Theranos shuttered its doors in 2018 amid federal investigations, media revelations about the failure of its technology, and dwindling financial resources.
Holmes now faces 11 federal charges of defrauding for false claims on the accuracy and success of her failing company’s technology. If the jury finds her guilty on all counts, she could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and be ordered to pay a $2.75 million fine.
The case has captivated Silicon Valley as overflow crowds lined up each day for a spot in the courtroom. Both Hulu and Apple+ have reportedly greenlighted productions focusing on the trial. Amanda Seyfried would reportedly star as Holmes in the Hulu project and Jennifer Lawrence would take on the role for Apple+.
During the trial and in closing arguments, prosecutors claimed Holmes — who dropped out of Stanford at 19 to start her company — had turned her blood-testing startup into a massive scam.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Schenk told the jury that Holmes intentionally chose deception as her company began to financially struggle in 2010.
“She chose fraud over business failure,” he said. “She chose to be dishonest. That choice was not only callous, it was criminal.”READ MORE: Guilty Verdicts for Elizabeth Holmes Could Impact Other Silicon Valley Start-Ups
Among those alleged deceptions, Schenk claimed, was using internal documents emblazoned with logos from major pharmaceutical companies to deceive Walgreens into believing those firms had validated Theranos’s technology; claiming the company’s devices were being used at battlefield hospitals by military doctors and projecting a false sense of financial stability.
The deception even carried over to the company’s marketing campaign that used words like “faster” “cheaper” and “more accurate” while using only a microscopic amount of blood.
The concept was so compelling that Theranos and Holmes raised more than $900 million, some of that from billionaire investors such as media magnate Rupert Murdoch and software titan Larry Ellison. The Palo Alto-based company also negotiated potentially lucrative deals with major retailers Walgreens and Safeway. Holmes soon began to grace national magazine covers as a wunderkind.
Defense attorney countered that Holmes was a well-meaning entrepreneur who never stopped trying to perfect Theranos’s blood-testing technology and deliver on her pledge to improve health care.
In a dramatic turn on the witness stand last month, Holmes testified that her former lover and business partner Sunny Balwani had been covertly controlling her diet, her friendships and more while subjecting her to mental, emotional and sexual abuse.
Although the testimony cast Holmes as Balwani’s pawn, her defense team did not mention the alleged abuse and its effects on Holmes during closing arguments.
Balwani’s lawyer adamantly denied Holmes’s accusations in court documents that the jury never saw. Jurors also never heard from Balwani, who intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if he had been called to testify.
Balwani, 56, faces similar fraud charges in a separate trial scheduled to begin in February.MORE NEWS: Theranos Whistleblower Tyler Shultz: Elizabeth Holmes 'A Very, Very Charismatic Person'
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