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Theranos' Holmes May Use 'Mental Disease' in Defense

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of Theranos, may pursue a "mental disease" defense in her upcoming trial, CNN reports.

Holmes was indicted in 2018 on wire fraud charges along with Ramesh Balwani, the company's former president. At its height, Theranos was valued at $9 billion and claimed to be able to run a number of clinical tests using only a tiny amount of blood, but a series of articles appearing in the Wall Street Journal beginning in 2015 shed doubt on the firm's technology and ability to run those tests. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services notified the firm in early 2016 about deficiencies in its lab testing procedures and later banned Holmes from owning or operating a lab. Theranos eventually closed shop in 2018 following the indictments of Holmes and Balwani.

Prosecutors allege they defrauded both investors and doctors, and both have pleaded not guilty. 

CNN reports court documents suggest Holmes' defense may "introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on ... the issue of guilt." According to Bloomberg, her defense may include testimony from an expert on the psychosocial consequences of trauma, especially violence against women.

Holmes' trial was initially set for this year, but was pushed back in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. CNN reports the trial is now scheduled for March.