Elizabeth Holmes resumes telling her story in risky defence


Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes continued with the bold strategy to testify at her own criminal trial, in an attempt to reverse the prosecution's narrative of her corporate misconduct. — AP Photo

Elizabeth Holmes carried on with the high-stakes gambit of testifying in her own defence at her criminal fraud trial.

The Theranos Inc. founder returned to the witness stand Monday in federal court in San Jose, California, where she took the courtroom by surprise late last week. Journalists and curious members of the public lined up outside long before the courthouse opened for the chance to hear Holmes herself.

Her testimony picked up where she left off Friday, describing the origins of her blood-testing startup while fielding friendly questions from her own lawyer.

At the outset, her strategy appears to be an attempt to break the mold prosecutors have cast over 10 weeks of a young woman who brazenly lied to powerful people in business, finance and government to achieve success and renown.

Holmes’s testimony is designed to recast her as an innovator who hardly deserves to be punished for daring to try to reform a key dimension of health care. In one sense, it may be a gamble worth taking.

The 37-year-old Stanford University dropout-turned-entrepreneur already has proven herself to be an aggressive and persuasive advocate for her company. If she could do it at Theranos, why shouldn’t she be able to convince just one juror of her innocence? Prosecutors need a unanimous verdict to win a conviction.

But it’s also a risky move. Under questioning from her own lawyers, Holmes will have to counter months of evidence intended to show she defrauded investors of hundreds of millions of dollars and endangered patients with inaccurate lab results.

Then she’ll have to do the same under the much more intense pressure of prosecutors grilling her under cross-examination.

"Smart move by the defence getting her on the stand before the weekend so the jurors had two days to reflect on her benign background before” the cross examination, said Amanda Kramer, a lawyer at Covington and Burling who isn’t involved in the case. – Bloomberg

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