Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of blood testing and life sciences company Theranos, arrives for the first day of jury selection in her fraud trial, outside Federal Court in San Jose, California on August 31, 2021.
Nick Otto | AFP | Getty Images
A jury in the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial is expected to be finalized by Thursday from 41 prospective jurors chosen after two days of intense questioning.
“We will have a sufficient number of jurors in this list to select a jury in this case,” U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila announced after eight hours of questioning in the courtroom on Wednesday.
The 12-person panel of jurors with five alternates will likely be sworn in after they are seated next Wednesday.
Holmes is facing a dozen counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. Prosecutors allege she duped investors, patients and doctors. She has pleaded not guilty.
Once crowned the youngest female self-made billionaire, Holmes is now defending herself against charges that she was a fraud. She dropped out of Stanford at age 19 with the idea to make lab testing cheaper, faster and less painful.
At its height, Theranos was valued at $9 billion – enchanting high-profile investors such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Walmart’s Walton family, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The trial, which is expected to last 13 weeks, will likely feature high profile witnesses and high drama moments.
Jury selection comes on the heels of shocking newly unsealed documents that reveal Holmes’ laying the groundwork for a mental health defense. The once outspoken CEO is expected to claim her former business partner and boyfriend, Sunny Balwani, psychologically, emotionally and sexually abused her over a decade. Balwani denies the claims.
The topic of intimate partner violence was discussed with potential jurors.
Davila asked the jury pool on Wednesday about their experience with domestic violence and roughly a dozen raised their hands, sharing their harrowing experiences with the packed courtroom.
Earlier in the day, one prospective juror said if he was selected to be on the jury he would want Holmes to take the stand.
“I think I would like to hear her testimony and hear what she’s going through, her side, her story or her experience,” he said. “For me, it would probably help me understand what’s happening in this trial.”
The judge pushed back reminding the prospective juror about the presumption of innocence until the defendant is proven guilty.
“I agree that she’s to be assumed not guilty, but I would like to hear her side of the story regardless,” the juror replied.
Prosecutors later questioned the same person asking if he’d hold it against Holmes if she didn’t testify.
“Not necessarily, I just think it’s important to hear her voice and maybe who she is and what’s happening through her,” he said. “I think hearing anything from the source is kind of a big deal.”
Among the excused jurors: a Safeway employee, a man who said his mother-in-law went to prison for fraud and embezzlement and several teachers who expressed hardships due to being understaffed in the pandemic.
Another potential juror admitted to seeing a couple of “online memes and funny images” relating to “a voice thing.” She went on say “people speak differently to different people so I don’t really find that as anything to sway my opinion.”