Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes may claim ‘mental disease’ during criminal trial

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes may claim she was suffering from “mental disease” during her upcoming criminal trial over whether she scammed investors out of millions with her fake blood-testing technology.

Holmes, whose failed biotech company was once valued at $9 billion, was indicted on federal wire fraud charges in June 2018,alongside with Theranos' former COO, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.

Both have pleaded not guilty to charges that include defrauding investors, doctors and patients by falsely claiming Theranos could revolutionize medical lab testing, citing unique technology able to administer a wide range of tests with only a few drops of blood.

Holmes' potential plan to claim mental illness in her upcoming trial — initially set for the summer before it was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic — was revealed on late Wednesday in a decision by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, Reuters reported.

He ordered that a psychologist and psychiatrist selected by the government examine the 36-year-old suspect for 14 hours over two days, overruling objections from the defense. Their interactions will also be recorded.

Holmes’ legal team said they intend to use expert testimony from Mindy Mechanic, a clinical psychologist at California State University at Fullerton, to bolster their claims, according to the filing.

According to her faculty profile on the school’s website, Mechanic specializes in “trauma and victimization with an emphasis on violence against women and other forms of interpersonal violence."

The mostly-redacted court documents do not make clear what mental illness or condition Holmes' attorney will attempt to cite in one of the most closely watched cases in Silicon Valley.

Holmes was flying high among tech titans when she founded Theranos as a Stanford dropout when she was 19.

But a series of Wall Street Journal stories published in 2015 revealed Theranos' product did not work as promised, forcing the company to shut down in September 2018. Holmes and Balwani were charged shortly after.