Elizabeth Homes, Theranos founder, may attempt to claim 'mental disease' in fraud trial

Elizabeth Homes, Theranos founder, may attempt to claim 'mental disease' in fraud trial
Posted at 9:53 AM, Sep 11, 2020

Elizabeth Holmes, a Silicon Valley businesswoman whose biotech company Theranos was once valued at $9 billion, will reportedly attempt to claim “mental disease” in her criminal trial, according to multiple reports.

Court filings releasedthis week indicate Holmes’ lawyers want to introduce evidence “relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on the issue of guilt.” However, details of what exactly her mental state is, or what the lawyers intend to argue are redacted.

Holmes founded Theranos as a Stanford drop-out at age 19. She, and her former romantic partner and Theranos president Sunny Balwani, face fraud charges for claiming their company’s machines could perform several diagnostic tests with just a single drop of blood.

The prosecution says the pair knew all along the technology wasn’t capable of doing the tests as promised, and allegedly defrauded investors, doctors and patients. They were charged in 2018 and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Holmes’ attorneys plan to introduce testimony from Mindy Mechanic, according to the filing, a psychology professor at California State University Fullerton.

The university’s website lists Mechanic’s focus as “the mental health consequences of violence, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression as well as other important physical and social health outcomes” and that she also provides expert testimony in “complex legal cases involving interpersonal violence.”

The judge is allowing the prosecution to conduct their own examination of Holmes, to gather any needed evidence.

Holmes’ case is expected to begin in March 2021.