Ex-founder of Theranos to claim ‘mental disease’ in criminal case

Theranos ex-CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes plans to claim a “mental disease” defense in her upcoming investor fraud trial, according to new court documents.

Holmes’ lawyers have told the government that they intend to “introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on … the issue of guilt,” CNN reported of the filing.

In a resulting next step, Judge Edward Davila of the US District Court for the Northern District of California this week told federal prosecutors they can have Holmes examined by their own psychologist and psychiatrist.

Holmes plans to mount her psychiatric defense using psychiatrist Dr. Mindy Mechanic, Bloomberg News has reported.

Mechanic works at the California State University  and specializes in “psychosocial consequences of violence, trauma and victimization with an emphasis on violence against women and other forms of interpersonal violence.”

Holmes and her COO at the failed blood-test firm were indicted on federal wire fraud in June 2018 when authorities alleged they used false claims to scam investors out of millions of dollars.

Both face up to 20 years of prison, and have pleaded not guilty.

Holmes’ trial, originally set to begin last March, has been postponed until March 2021, due to the coronavirus.

Co-defendant Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani will be tried separately from Holmes once her trial is over.