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Defunct Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes May Claim 'Mental Disease' As Defense In 2021 Trial

September 10, 2020

Former biotech CEO, Elizabeth Holmes of the defunct Theranos blood lab may try to plea insanity in a US District Court in San Diego according to court filings. The 36-year-old's attorney's claim Holmes was suffering from a ‘mental disease’ when she allegedly defrauded and scammed investors out of millions with her fake blood testing technology.

Defunct Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes May Claim 'Mental Disease' As Defense In 2021 Trial

The FBI investigated Theranos and shut down for good in 2018. Holmes and former Theranos President Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani are charged with allegedly defrauding investors, doctors, patients and others with false claims that their fake blood technology would revolutionize medical lab testing with just a few drops of blood from 2003 to 2015. Holmes and Balwani denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and have maintained their innocence.

Judge Edward Davila allowed the prosecution to introduce expert evidence from a clinical psychologist ‘relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on the issue of guilt.’ Under Davila’s ruling, a psychiatrist chosen by the government will examine and test Holmes for 14 hours over two days. Judge Davila also allowed the examinations to be recorded on video, despite Holmes’ lawyers saying that the recordings would ‘negatively affect their client.

The psychological finding and diagnosis (if any) could prove Holmes’ intent to do something nefarious or illegal. Davila’s ruling rejected the argument made by Holmes’ lawyers that she shouldn’t have to submit to a psychological examination by government experts. The judge disagreed, stating that the examination is necessary for the prosecutions ‘rebuttal’ as the defense is providing testimony from its own experts, according to Mindy Mechanic, a California State University at Fullerton professor who specializes in psychosocial areas of violence, trauma and victimization. There are reportedly over 16 million pages of documents in the Theranos fraud case, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Bostic.

Elizabeth Holmes - Theranos

The rapid rise and fall of Theranos is an HBO documentary called “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” which follows Holmes from the beginning of her start-up to her 2018 indictment. HBO’s Theranos story is told through a series of interviews with duped reporters, whistleblowers, and cringe worthy depictions of what it was like working at the facility by former Theranos employees.

Both Holmes and Bhalwani who briefly dated each face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and a $2.75 million fine if found guilty. Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton, revealed in February 2019 that Holmes currently lives in a luxury apartment and engaged a hospitality heir, who also works in tech while she awaits her trial scheduled for March 2021.

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