Week three in the trial of Johnny Depp’s libel lawsuit in London closed with Amber Heard as the star witness, spending four days on the stand testifying that a British tabloid was correct to label her former husband a “wife beater.”
The case will continue for at least a few more days next week when both sides give closing arguments on Monday and Tuesday before British judge Andrew Nicol at the non-jury trial.
To recap: Depp is suing the top editor and publisher of The Sun tabloid in civil court after the paper called him a “wife beater” in a 2018 story without preceding the term with “alleged” or “accused.”
This week it was The Sun’s turn to put on its defense. Heard was their main witness, along with her sister, Whitney Henriquez,both of whom testified that Depp abused Heard physically and verbally in drug- and alcohol-fueled rages, and that Heard feared he would one day kill her.
In its defense, The Sun pointed to a list of Heard’s 14 allegations of violence by Depp between 2013 and 2016.
Heard also spent a good deal of time under cross-examination by Depp’s lawyers denying that she abused him, denying that she herself was a heavy drug user and drinker, and rejecting the characterization that she is a controlling, mendacious and abusive person, as Depp’s lawyers have suggested.
The first two weeks of the trial were often head-spinning: Depp and his witnesses spent days on the stand testifying that The Sun relied on fabricated allegations stemming from the couple’s volatile 18-month marriage, which ended in 2017 following an uproar in divorce court in Los Angeles.
Until now, none of either side’s allegations of domestic abuse has ever been litigated in civil or criminal court, or confirmed by police reports. Sometime later this year or early next year, Depp and Heard are due to go through all this again in a Virginia courtroom for a jury trial over Depp’s defamation civil suit against Heard. She wrote a newspaper column in 2018 proclaiming herself a victim of domestic abuse, leaving the strong impression that Depp was the alleged abuser.
So far, the testimony has covered: Frequent violent, shrieking rows; massive consumption of drugs and drink; wild punches and flying projectiles; trashed rooms; a lopped-off fingertip; a teacup Yorkie dangled out a car window; and ickiest of all, feces (possibly human) in a bed.
Depp, 57, testified that Heard, 34, was the abusive one in their relationship and several of his current and former employees backed his version of her. One of her former assistants accused Heard of stealing her harrowing 26-year-old rape experience in Brazil and exploiting it to court sympathy.
Here are some of key allegations in trial testimony this week:
Was Heard’s sister’s testimony significantly undermined?
Heard’s sister was a crucial witness for her and for The Sun because she testified Thursday she witnessed Depp hitting Heard “multiple times” during an alleged incident at the couple’s Los Angeles penthouse apartment in March 2015.
Henriquez also denied that Heard had ever assaulted her or that she was frightened of her sister. But her testimony was thrown into some doubt on Friday, after Depp’s legal team introduced a video featuring Henriquez they said they had received the night before from a “confidential” source.
The unused reality TV footage from 2006 or 2007 showed Henriquez by a pool with a group of women, one of whom is heard saying, “Did you get in a fight or something?” and “I can’t believe Amber beat your ass.” Another appears to inspect Henriquez’s cheek and arm, and Henriquez says she is not going to talk about it.
Henriquez denied she lied. She testified that the argument with her sister had been a “verbal” one and that her friends were “trying to make a very, very boring story more interesting.”
In written evidence to the court, Henriquez said she “felt sick” in September 2013 when she learned her sister was going to marry Depp and told Heard that “putting a ring on her finger was not going to stop him hitting her.”
Did Depp repeatedly threaten to kill Heard?
Heard testified that Depp “explicitly threatened to kill me many times, especially later in our relationship.” She said he blamed his actions on “a self-created third party” that he referred to as “the monster.” She said she loved Depp when he was himself but that she was “terrified of the monster.”
“Johnny, when he was clean and sober, could be a wonderful person, generous, loving,” she said. “He’s a remarkable man when he’s like that and I loved him. The other side of him was a monster but I always held out hope he would get clean and sober.”
Heard said in written evidence that some incidents were so severe she was “afraid he was going to kill me, either intentionally or just by losing control and going too far.”
Did Depp lob wine bottles at her like ‘grenades’?
Heard testified that Depp threw “30 or so bottles” at her as if they were “grenades or bombs” during a drunken and frenzied assault in Australia in March 2015 during which his fingertip was lopped off. (They were there while Depp filmed one of his “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.)
She acknowledged she broke one bottle during their fights over his drinking in Australia. “I regret I did that,” she said, although she claimed Depp credited her for “saving him” by trying to get him sober.
After she smashed the bottle, Heard said Depp started throwing bottles, full enough that they broke a window behind her. “He started picking them up one by one and throwing them like grenades or bombs,” she said. “One after the other after the other, in my direction, and I felt glass breaking behind me.”
Did Heard admit to hitting Depp?
Heard acknowledged she struck Depp with “a closed fist” for the first time in March 2015, after years of alleged abuse, to defend herself and Henriquez because Depp had struck both of them.
“He was about to push her down the stairs and the moment before that happened, I remembered information I had heard that he pushed a former girlfriend — I believe it was Kate Moss — down the stairs,” she said. (Depp dated the top model in the 1990s.)
“I will never forget this incident,” Heard said. “It was the first time after all these years.”
Depp’s British lawyer, David Sherborne, argued that Henriquez tailored her testimony to meet her sister’s version of what happened during the stairs incident.
“Our case is she has lied in order to support her sister on this very important issue as to what happened on the stairs,” Sherborne said.
Did Heard create a ‘web of lies’ about Depp?
One of Depp’s lawyers, Eleanor Laws, sought to show inconsistencies in Heard’s allegations, accusing her of weaving a “web of lies.”
“You’re making this up as you go along at times,” Laws said to Heard, to which Heard replied: “All this happened to me and I remember it.”
Laws showed a series of video clips from an elevator at the couple’s Los Angeles apartment building that she claimed showed no evidence of any injuries on Heard’s face after an incident on May 21, 2016. Heard claimed Depp threw a phone at her “like he was a baseball pitcher,” hitting her on the right cheek and eye.
Laws wondered why others in the building did not notice injuries in the days after. Heard said she wears makeup when leaving home that could have camouflaged any injury.
“Of course I had an injury,” she said.
Did Heard damage her career by alleging Depp abused her?
Heard testified she never wanted to go public with her allegations against Depp. She said she wanted to be “left alone” after the breakup of their marriage and that she wanted to “save him the embarrassment.”
“I didn’t want to do this, I did not want to expose this totality of what really happened to me,” Heard said. “I didn’t want to talk about everything that happened in our marriage and happened in our relationship.”
She said having these allegations discussed in open court had damaged and would continue to damage her movie career. (Earlier, Depp testified that the accusations by his ex-wife had hurt his career and had “been a constant issue” in his casting in movies.)
What was Heard’s take on the ‘disgusting’ feces-in-the-bed incident?
Depp and a maid have testified that the poop was human. It was discovered the morning after a major row at her birthday party in 2016. Depp blamed Heard or one of her friends. Heard denied this.
“That’s absolutely disgusting,” Heard said. “I can’t imagine what kind of human being would have a sense of humor like that, other than Johnny, but I don’t think that’s funny, I think it’s horrific.”
Heard suggested the feces came from one of her teacup Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo.
Contributing: The Associated Press