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Elizabeth Holmes Case Takes On More Drama Ahead of Sentencing


SAN JOSE, Calif. — When Elizabeth Holmes, the founding father of the failed blood-testing start-up Theranos, was convicted of fraud in January, the decision represented the tip of a drawn-out saga.

But in the following months, as Ms. Holmes has awaited her sentence, the drama round her case has only escalated.

First Ms. Holmes’s co-conspirator, the previous chief operating officer of Theranos, was convicted of fraud in July. Then Ms. Holmes asked the judge to overturn her conviction, citing a scarcity of evidence, and submitted a flurry of requests for a recent trial based on recent evidence. At recent hearings over the case, she has appeared visibly pregnant along with her second child. And in August, a key witness did something highly unusual in a criminal case: He showed up at her house.

That incident became the premise of Ms. Holmes’s latest try to reverse her fortunes. On Monday, the 38-year-old, her parents and partner, lawyers, and a scrum of media gathered in a federal courtroom in San Jose, Calif., for a hearing that would open the door to her getting a recent trial. The visit by the important thing witness, Ms. Holmes’s lawyers argued, raised questions on his credibility and the fairness of the trial.

The move is an extended shot, experts said.

“It’s a near-certainty that the judge will deny Elizabeth Holmes a recent trial” on the premise of the witness’s visit to her house, said Amanda Kramer, a former federal prosecutor who’s a partner on the law firm Covington & Burling. The judge most definitely allowed the hearing to stop Ms. Holmes from using the incident in her inevitable appeal, Ms. Kramer added.

But little about Ms. Holmes’s case, which got here to symbolize the pitfalls of Silicon Valley’s hype-driven start-up culture, has been typical. Ms. Holmes and her partner, Billy Evans, declined to comment on the case or whether or not they expect.

At issue is an Aug. 8 visit from Dr. Adam Rosendorff, who played a key role in Theranos’s rise as its lab director. He later became a whistle-blower who helped expose the corporate’s fraud. Theranos had told patients and investors that its revolutionary technology could accurately perform hundreds of blood tests with a single drop of blood when it couldn’t.

During Ms. Holmes’s trial last 12 months, by which she faced nearly a dozen counts of misleading patients and investors, Dr. Rosendorff endured six bruising days of testimony, the longest of any witness. Afterward, jurors said that they had found his testimony amongst essentially the most credible within the trial.

Then in August, Dr. Rosendorff visited Theranos’s former office in Palo Alto, Calif., in addition to the primary Walgreens store the corporate had worked with. Each, he found, were gone.

Consequently, he “suddenly felt that a conversation with the defendant was the missing piece” to moving on along with his life, his lawyers said in a filing. Dr. Rosendorff drove to Ms. Holmes’s residence in nearby Woodside, Calif. Mr. Evans answered, and told him to depart.

From there, the accounts differ. Ms. Holmes’s camp said that Dr. Rosendorff had expressed guilt over his role within the situation, and that he had said government prosecutors “made things sound worse than they were.” Ms. Holmes argued that the incident called Dr. Rosendorff’s testimony and the federal government’s entire case into query, which meant she deserved a recent trial.

On Monday, Dr. Rosendorff returned to the stand. Judge Edward Davila, who oversaw Ms. Holmes’s trial, asked whether Dr. Rosendorff’s testimony on the trial was truthful and whether the federal government had faithfully represented the facts. He testified affirmatively.

Then Lance Wade, Ms. Holmes’s lawyer, grilled him. Why did Dr. Rosendorff need to visit Ms. Holmes? Had Dr. Rosendorff had a mental breakdown that impacted his testimony? Was the federal government attempting to make everyone look bad? Was Dr. Rosendorff in search of to assist Ms. Holmes?

Dr. Rosendorff responded by accusing Ms. Holmes’s lawyers of attempting to paint him as a liar. He said he felt sympathy for Theranos employees who were affected by the scandal — but not for Ms. Holmes and her co-conspirator, Ramesh Balwani. He added that he felt bad that Ms. Holmes’s children would grow up with out a mother if she went to prison.

Ms. Holmes was convicted on 4 counts of fraud, with each carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Dr. Rosendorff testified that his contact with Ms. Holmes was motivated by a desire for healing.

“I don’t need to help Ms. Holmes,” he said. “She’s not anyone who might be helped. At this point she needs to assist herself. She must pay her debt to society.”

Ms. Holmes stared at Dr. Rosendorff throughout his testimony, occasionally taking notes. As she left, arm in arm with Mr. Evans, she flashed a smile to reporters but didn’t reply to questions.

Outside the courtroom, Dr. Rosendorff ran away from a bunch of reports cameras. A lawyer for Dr. Rosendorff declined to comment.

Judge Davila said he had received the answers to his questions regarding the incident. He’ll resolve whether Ms. Holmes deserves a recent trial in the approaching weeks.

Ms. Holmes is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18. She is predicted to appeal.

Mr. Balwani, who was convicted of a dozen counts of fraud for Theranos, is about to be sentenced on Nov. 15. He tried to piggyback on the visit from Dr. Rosendorff to Ms. Holmes as a reason for his own recent trial. The motion was denied.

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