San Jose, Khalif. As Elizabeth Holmes testifies in her own defense, she gets a little help from her friends.
CNBC has learned that Holmes has called his former Kappa Alpha Theta friends and sisters at Stanford asking if they would go to court as a show of support. Not all of her friends accepted the invitation. A source close to the matter told CNBC that one of her friends backed down because she was not satisfied with the request.
However, a small group of women – some from Holmes’ early days at Stanford – are a regular part of the former CEO of Theranos’ entourage, which is now growing because she is on the podium.
Friends, who are often photographed with Holmes outside of court, do not identify themselves when asked. Investigators on social media who were watching the trial believed that one of the One of the women who accompanied Holmes was Vanessa Kirby, the actress who played Princess Margaret in “The Crown” on Netflix.
When asked outside court if it was Kirby, she said, “I don’t even know who she is.” But last week, as she queued up to enter the courtroom, she told a reporter that her name was actually Vanessa. This was not true.
Her name is actually Jackie Lamping. However, Lamping, who was in the same sorority as Holmes at Stanford, did not portray Kings on screen. According to her LinkedIn page, she is a New York-based Marketing Executive. It did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The “watch with friends” strategy is very popular, according to several legal analysts.
“Jurors are watching the behavior of the people who come to support her,” said Kathryn James, a trial counsel in Los Angeles. “There is a strong belief that if there are people with you that the jury will like, that order will be violated.”
But the strategy could turn against it.
“I would be careful if I were Elizabeth Holmes,” said Alan Turkheimer, an attorney and trial counsel in Chicago. “Of course, you’d try to show an image that would resonate with the jury, but if they saw that as any sort of manipulative ploy to impress them, it could backfire completely.”
Another friend who appeared regularly also evaded reporters’ questions about her name, only revealing that she had played tennis and was traveling to San Jose for the trial.
When a reporter asked her name, the woman answered “I do not remember”. In alignment with others in the early morning hours last week, she told CNBC She is originally from Croatia, but has been elusive about her identity.
Despite the confrontation with the reporters, the two women hug and talk a lot with Holmes in the hallway during breaks. Questions about their identities aren’t the first time a member of Holmes’ camp has been less than frank with the media.
At the start of the trial, her partner’s father, William “Bill” Evans, attended the jury selection dressed in casual clothes and said his name was “Hanson.” Evans sat in the back of the courtroom and said he was just a spectator. He’s not back in court yet NPR . revealed his identity.
On the podium over the course of five days, Holmes showed a glimmer of remorse. For example, she told the jury “I wish I did it differently” when asked about adding drug makers’ logos to Theranos lab reports sent to investors.
“I think she probably feels like ‘I’m going to get over this,’ she has a lot of optimism and a little woe to me. I don’t think there is a sense of guilt based on my conversations with her, a former close friend of Holmes said,” she said.
Holmes’ lawyers did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment. While Holmes’ testimony surprised trial watchers, people who knew her told CNBC that she wanted to control the narrative.
Another ex-friend who knew Holmes well said, “She has the arrogance that no one can do as well as I can.” “My suspicion is that she did not intend to testify, but after watching the trial unfold, I decided she was best suited to defend herself.”
Holmes, who was able to convince seasoned investors to raise $945 million for Theranos, is betting that she will also be able to convince a jury that while she made mistakes she didn’t commit a crime.
“She has 945 million reasons to believe and trust her persuasiveness,” said the ex-boyfriend. “She can’t help herself, look at the circus I have set up around her while holding the hand of her mother who is not particularly close to her and reaching out to acquaintances from Stanford for a show of strength.”
Former employee of Theranos who was close to Holmes, and also asked not to be identified, said that Holmes likely insisted on taking the stand.
“She has a high tolerance for stress and risks,” said the ex-boyfriend. “That’s what entrepreneurs do. But the kinds of risks Elizabeth took the vast majority of us would never do.”
On the stage, jurors and the public saw a different side to Holmes than she portrayed him as CEO of Theranos. Prosecutors focused on inconsistencies Holmes presented to investors and journalists and in previous civil affidavits.
Faced with a possible prison term, all of Holmes’ former friends say she’s betting on herself to clear her name.
As Holmes wrote in a memo to herself in court this week, “I know the outcome of every encounter.”