Jurors in Elizabeth Holmes Trial Appear Deadlocked on Some Charges

The jurors sent two notes saying they were unable to agree on three of the 11 counts facing Ms. Holmes, the founder of the blood-testing start-up Theranos.,

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jurors in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, reiterated late Monday that they were unable to agree on three of the 11 counts in her fraud case after earlier being instructed by the judge to keep going.

The jury of eight men and four women has spent around 50 hours over seven days so far deliberating whether Ms. Holmes, 37, is guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud. Each fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The deliberations follow a more than three-month-long trial for Ms. Holmes that laid bare the worst excesses of Silicon Valley’s start-up culture, where founders regularly stretch the truth in search of fortune and fame. Yet entrepreneurs rarely take their exaggerations as far as Ms. Holmes did, and are often not prosecuted. Ms. Holmes styled herself after Steve Jobs and said she planned to revolutionize health care with her start-up.

On Monday morning, jurors sent a note saying they were deadlocked on three of the counts. They did not elaborate on which of the counts were at issue. Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California, who is overseeing the case, instructed them to continue deliberating.

In the afternoon, the jury returned with a second note saying they could not reach a verdict on the three charges after trying again. After the judge polled the jurors to confirm they were deadlocked, they were instructed to fill out a verdict form on the counts they agreed on.

Understand the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Jury deliberations are underway in the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos.

Recapping the Trial: Prosecutors sought to prove that Ms. Holmes “chose fraud over business failure,” while the defense relied heavily on her testimony.Holmes’s Testimony: Ms. Holmes took the stand for seven days. Here are the biggest revelations from her testimony.Understand the Case: The trial caps a saga of Silicon Valley hubris, ambition and deception.Who’s Who: Here are some of the key figures in the case, including two whistle-blowers and a former U.S. secretary of defense.Inside the Courtroom: This is what goes on behind the courthouse’s closed doors.

The jurors had asked no questions of the court since Dec. 23, when they asked to listen to audio recordings in which Ms. Holmes allegedly misled investors about Theranos’s business relationships. They also asked to take jury instructions home, which the court denied.

If the jury is unable to reach a verdict on all of the counts, Judge Davila could accept a verdict on the counts they do agree on, said Andrew George, a white-collar defense lawyer at the firm Baker Botts. That would mean Ms. Holmes could be retried on the three counts.

But a retrial is less likely if she is found guilty on the other counts, Mr. George said. “The government will have won,” he said.

He added that a partial verdict was not ideal in a long trial because “it’s dissatisfying for all involved” but that “the nightmare of a total mistrial is very unlikely.”

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Carlos Chavarria for The New York Times

Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, stands trial for two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud.

Here are some of the key figures in the case ->

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Stephen Lam/Reuters

Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 as a 19-year-old Stanford dropout. She raised $945 million from investors and was crowned the world’s youngest billionaire, but has been accused of lying about how well Theranos’s technology worked. She has pleaded not guilty.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ramesh Balwani, known as Sunny,was Theranos’s president and chief operating officer from 2009 through 2016 and was in a romantic relationship with Holmes. He has also been accused of fraud and may stand trial next year. He has pleaded not guilty.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

David Boies, a prominent litigator, represented Theranos as its lawyer and served on its board.

He tried to shut down whistle-blowers and reporters who questioned the company’s business practices.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Getty Images

The journalist John Carreyrou wrote stories exposing fraudulent practices at Theranos.

His coverage for The Wall Street Journal helped lead to the implosion of Theranos.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, via Getty Images

Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung are former Theranos employees and were whistle-blowers. They worked at the start-up in 2013 and 2014.

Shultz is a grandson of George Shultz, a former secretary of state who was on the Theranos board.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

James Mattis, a retired four-star general, was a member of Theranos’s board.

He went on to serve as President Donald J. Trump’s secretary of defense.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Edward Davila, a federal judge for the Northern District of California, will oversee the case.

Kevin Downey, a partner at the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly, is the lead lawyer for Holmes.

Robert Leach, an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of California, will lead the prosecution for the government, along with other prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Nov. 15, 2021

Ms. Holmes’s trial has stood out for its length and its meandering pace. Judge Davila has allowed her lawyers to grill certain witnesses for days and indulged long procedural debates that delayed many days of testimony.

Since Ms. Holmes’s trial began in September, a number of prominent criminal trials — including those of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan Jr., who killed Ahmaud Arbery; Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three men in Kenosha, Wis., in 2020; and Kim Potter, the police officer who killed Daunte Wright — have come and gone. Last week, a jury found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of conspiring with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls.

It is not unusual for deliberations in white-collar trials to be lengthy, especially in complex fraud cases in which defendants are charged with multiple counts that span multiple years.

In 2007, a jury took 12 days to convict Conrad Black, a press tycoon, of fraud after a 14-week trial that involved 13 counts. Martin Shkreli, the infamous former hedge fund manager, was convicted of securities fraud after five days of deliberations in 2017 following a five-week trial.

In Ms. Holmes’s case, the jury must sift through 14 weeks of testimony and more than 900 pieces of evidence as they decide whether Ms. Holmes intentionally deceived investors, patients and advertisers in the pursuit of investments and business for her blood testing start-up.

Ms. Holmes founded Theranos in 2003. She dropped out of Stanford in 2004 and spent the next decade raising nearly $1 billion from investors and signing contracts with Walgreens and Safeway.

But The Wall Street Journal revealed in 2015 that Theranos’s blood-testing devices could perform only a dozen tests, contrary to Ms. Holmes’s claims of more than 1,000 to investors, business partners and the public. Theranos officially shuttered in 2018 amid scandal.

Prosecutors called 29 witnesses as they attempted to prove that Ms. Holmes “chose fraud over business failure,” as Jeff Schenk, an assistant U.S. attorney, said during closing arguments.

The defense’s case rested primarily on Ms. Holmes’s own testimony. She said she believed her own claims and pointed fingers at her senior employees, including Ramesh Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and Theranos’s former chief operating officer. Mr. Balwani, who faces identical charges, is scheduled to stand trial beginning in February.

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