Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the defunct blood-testing startup Theranos, lost her bid for a new fraud trial. That’s despite the dramatic twist in the case last month, with Holmes winning a last-minute hearing over a bizarre incident in which the government’s star witness against her showed up distraught and disheveled at her home.
Holmes, who was convicted in January on four counts of criminal fraud for deceiving investors, is now scheduled for sentencing on November 18.
In a ruling filed late Monday, US District Judge Edward Davila flatly denied Holmes’ motions for a new trial, concluding that they didn’t include new information relating to her case or establish any misconduct by government prosecutors.
Holmes and her lawyers claimed that star witness Adam Rosendorff, Theranos’ former lab director, abruptly showed up at Holmes’ front door in August and made statements implying that government prosecutors manipulated his testimony during the trial.
Rosendorff appeared at Holmes’ home on the evening of August 8 and requested to speak with Holmes, but instead only spoke with her partner, William Evans. The two men offered differing accounts of the content and meaning of their 10-minute exchange.
Evans said that Rosendorff appeared at their front door anxious and untidy—his voice was shaky, his shirt was untucked, and his hair uncombed. According to Evans, Rosendorff wanted to speak with Holmes because he thought it could be “healing.” He allegedly told Evans that during his six grueling days of testimony during the trial, he tried to be honest, but that government prosecutors “tried to make everybody [at Theranos] look bad,” and that they “made things sound worse than they were.” Afterward, he “felt like he had done something wrong” and was losing sleep over the outcome.
With that account, Holmes and her lawyers alleged that government prosecutors had “cherry-picked evidence” and manipulated Rosendorff’s testimony, amounting to misconduct and the need for a new trial.
“She’s not somebody who can be helped.”
But Rosendorff disputed those claims during the evidentiary hearing on October 17. Rosendorff told the court that he did not believe prosecutors made things appear worse than they were and that they were “comprehensive” and did not cherry-pick the evidence presented. He reiterated that all of his testimony was truthful and that prosecutors never pressured him to lie.
He also clarified in the hearing that his unusual visit wasn’t motivated to help Holmes but to promote healing.
“I don’t want to help Ms. Holmes,” Rosendorff said. “She’s not somebody who can be helped. At this point she needs to help herself. She needs to pay her debt to society.”
At another point, Rosendorff added that he did feel sorry that Holmes’ children could grow up without a mother if she is sent to prison. Holmes gave birth to her first child late last year as her trial was nearing its end. In the hearing last month, she appeared visibly pregnant with her second child.
Judge Davila concluded that Rosendorff’s testimony was credible and that his alleged post-trial comments did not establish government misconduct. Even if Evans’ account of Rosendorff’s comments were accurate, the comments were “too vague and general to imply that any specific testimony was actually false or misleading,” Davila wrote. Moreover, as the former lab director for Theranos, Rosendorff’s testimony mostly related to charges of defrauding patients and doctors—charges on which Holmes was acquitted. Rosendorff’s testimony, even if it was false, would not affect the convictions related to investor fraud counts.
Davila denied Holmes a new trial and set sentencing to next week. Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the four counts, though it is unlikely that she will face the maximum sentences. Holmes is expected to appeal the conviction.