Elizabeth Holmes drawn as villain, underdog as trial begins

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The highly anticipated fraud trial of fallen Silicon Valley star Elizabeth Holmes began Wednesday with dueling portraits of the former entrepreneur sketched by prosecutors and defense lawyers
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys sketched dueling portraits of fallen Silicon Valley star Elizabeth Holmes as her trial got underway Wednesday, alternatively describing her as a greedy villain who faked her way to the top and as a passionate underdog whose spent years trying to shake up the health care industry.

The two sides are now expected to spend the next three months trying to sway a 12-person jury impaneled to hearing the evidence in a case airing allegations that Holmes used her startup, Theranos, as a scheme to realize her dreams of becoming rich and as famous as one of her role models, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Once hailed as a billionaire on paper, Holmes is now facing a sentence of up to 20 years if convicted of the felony charges.

Holmes' rise and fall has already been the subject of documentaries, books and podcasts, feeding the fervor that has built up around a trial that has been delayed twice since she was indicted nearly three years ago. With roughly only 75 spots available for the media and general public to observe the proceedings, people began to line up outside the San Jose, California, courthouse before 5 a.m. Wednesday.

After the jury was seated and U.S. District Judge Edward Davila gave his preliminary instructions, federal prosecutor Robert Leach wasted little time vilifying Holmes.

He cast Holmes in a dark light, depicting her as a conniving entrepreneur who duped investors, customers and patients for years, even though she knew her startup, Theranos, was nearly bankrupt and its much-hyped blood-testing technology was a flop.

"This case is about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money," Leach said during his roughly 45-minute opening statement.

He said the evidence would show that Theranos was already in deep trouble as far back as 2009, about six years after Holmes founded the Palo…
MICHAEL LIEDTKE AP Technology Writer
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