A key witness in a trial that led to the conviction of disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes adamantly stood by his testimony during an unusual court appearance Monday. The prosecution witness, former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff, made a remorseful appearance at Holmes’ Silicon Valley home after the trial, raising questions about potential misconduct.
The 75-minute hearing opened the same day that Holmes, 38, had been scheduled for sentencing following her conviction on four felony counts of investor fraud earlier this year. She is facing up to 20 years in prison for lying to Thrernos investors about a blood-testing technology that she promised would revolutionize health care, but that never worked the way she had boasted.
Monday's hearing provided what might be the final opportunity for Holmes to avoid prison if her legal team can persuade U.S. District Judge Edward Davila she deserves a new trial, based on the Rosendorff's conduct. Rosendorff spent six days on the witness stand last year testifying for the prosecution during Holmes' trial.
Davila decided Rosendorff's testimony should be re-examined after Holmes' lawyers last month filed a request for a new trial, based on an uninvited visit that Rosendorff made on Aug. 8 to a palatial estate that Holmes shares with William “Billy" Evans, her current partner and father of their 1-year-old son.
Although he didn’t speak to Holmes directly, Rosendorff told Evans that “he tried to answer the questions honestly but that the prosecutors tried to make everyone look bad” and felt “he had done something wrong,” according to Evans’ recollection of the conversation filed with the court.
Under questioning by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, Rosendorff said his testimony in the trial was truthful — a theme he would repeat throughout the hearing while also emphasizing that he believed Holmes deserved to be convicted. But he also told Davila he lamented the possibility that Holmes' son “would spend the formative years of his life without his mother" if Holmes is sentenced to prison.
Rosendorff then added, without explanation, that “it is my understanding she is pregnant again.” When The Associated Press asked Holmes and Evans about that after the hearing, neither responded directly. Holmes broke into a spontaneous smile while Evans complimented an AP reporter on his shoes before they entered an elevator together.
After the judge finished his brief question, Rosendorff spent the next 50 minutes sparring with one of Holmes' lawyers, Lance Wade, who also engaged in several testy exchanges with Rosendorff while cross- examining him during the trial.
Wade sought to to get Rosendorff to talk about about the emotional distress he had been under since the trial and also whether he was under medication during his August visit. Rosendorff refused to answer and the judge didn't press him on the issue.
Rosendorff tailored most of his responses to Wade to emphasize that he testified truthfully while trying to dispel any notion that he considered Holmes to be a friend for whom he feels sorry.
“I don’t want to help Ms. Holmes,” Rosendorff said at one point. “The only person that can help her is herself. She needs to pay her debt to society.”
Rosendorff also tried to make clear that he believed her conviction was justified. “The government was trying to get to the truth of what happened -- what Elizabeth Holmes did," he said.
Government prosecutors spent a brief period also reaffirming that Rosendorff doesn't believe any misconduct occurred during the trial. Davila said he would allow both Holmes' legal team and government prosecutors to filed additional written arguments during the next week before ruling on whether he will grant a new trial — a prospect that legal experts believe is unlikely.
For now, Davila has scheduled Nov. 18 as Holmes' new sentencing date. That's three days after her former romantic and business partner, Ramesh “Sunny" Balwani, is scheduled to be sentenced. Balwani, 57, was convicted on 12 counts of investor and patient fraud in a separate trial that concluded in July.