Amber Heard’s testimony concludes after 4 days of questioning in defamation trial

Categories: ABC News

By Carson Blackwelder , Hayley FitzPatrick & Mark Guarino

May 17, 2022

Amber Heard was back on the stand Tuesday as her testimony concluded in the high-profile defamation trial between her and her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

Depp’s legal team concluded their cross-examination of the “Aquaman” actress, and her lawyers redirected her. Closing arguments are set for May 27.

Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post. In the piece, she wrote about surviving domestic abuse, without identifying her alleged abuser by name. In response, Heard has filed a $100 million countersuit against Depp.

The former couple was married from 2015 to 2017, but met when Depp cast Heard in the 2011 film “The Rum Diary.” The pair have lobbed abuse claims at each other during their individual testimonies in the Fairfax, Virginia, courthouse.

In their respective depositions, Depp alleged that he is the victim of domestic violence. Among his many claims, he alleged Heard threw a liquor bottle at him, severing a finger on his right hand, and that Heard’s allegations against him resulted in his firing from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.

Heard alleged on the stand that Depp physically abused her on multiple occasions and that she was sexually assaulted. She also claimed she was subject to repeated verbal abuse throughout their relationship and tried to leave him several times. Both deny each other’s claims of abuse.

In a statement obtained by ABC News, Depp’s spokesperson called Heard’s testimony “the performance of her life,” and promised that their cross-examination “will certainly highlight the many fallacies Ms. Heard has now attempted to pass off as fact.”

Heard’s team issued a statement of its own, also obtained by ABC News, with her spokesperson saying in response, “One of Ms. Heard’s disappointments is Mr. Depp’s inability to distinguish fact from fiction.”

Many are anticipating the calling of supermodel Kate Moss as a surprise witness in the case, after Heard previously named her during her testimony. Heard, when recalling a time she alleges she fought back against Depp during an altercation, referred to a rumor that Depp pushed Moss down the stairs during their relationship in the 1990s. Depp’s attorney was seen smiling and fist-pumping after Moss’ name was said. Moss has never commented publicly on the rumor.

Follow along for key updates from Heard’s continued testimony.


May 17 court notes: Cross-examination of Heard’s testimony concludes

Jurors in the defamation trial between actors Depp and Heard listened to a lengthy audio recording Tuesday of the two actors berating one another during a fight in which Heard, laughing at a loud volume, called her ex-husband a “sellout,” “joke” and “washed-up.”

“Your jealousy is so tragic,” Depp replied in the recording.

Heard denied the suggestion from Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, that Depp had gotten her the role in “Aquaman,” saying she auditioned for it and got it on her own.

The fight was one of many audio and video recordings presented to jurors during the trial, now in its fifth week.

During Heard’s cross-examination, Vasquez attempted to show Heard as the aggressor in the troubled relationship and a frequent drug user who even advocated for open drug use during the couple’s wedding weekend. An email presented in court showed Heard adding “Dance party and drugs and music” to the itinerary after the rehearsal dinner. Vasquez asked why she would press for an event that featured drugs considering her accusations that her fiance was an addict.

Heard did not answer directly but said that the weekend schedule “ended up changing.”

The cross-examination also featured a line of questioning by Vasquez attempting to show Heard as “haranguing” Depp to a point that he stopped answering her texts and is heard, via another audio recording, telling her to “let me leave.”

Heard said she was so persistent because she knew that Depp was about to binge on drugs. Vasquez said that was false. The lawyer also alleged that Heard was crying and telling Depp she was “going to die” because of the stress, and he wanted her to leave him alone so he could visit his daughter in peace.

Vasquez also tried to diminish claims that Heard suffered physical bruises due to alleged violence she endured under Depp. A split screen was presented, showing two photos from May 2016. In the split of the two images, Heard’s face appears more red in one image than in the other image. Vasquez argued this was due to editing by Heard.

Heard denied this and said the difference in lighting was due to “vanity lights” being turned on in one photo and not the other. “Isn’t it true you just edited these photographs?” Vasquez questioned Heard, who responded, “No, I’ve never edited a photograph.”

“You just enhanced the saturation from one of these photos to make your face look more red?” Vasquez continued.

“No, that’s incorrect. I didn’t touch it,” Heard replied.

The Washington Post op-ed also came into question. Heard said it was written to reflect her experience after leaving her marriage. Vasquez quoted specific passages that Heard later said “was a reference to a larger phenomenon, not just Johnny.”

Heard admitted she declined to ask the newspaper to change the article’s headline, “I spoke up against domestic violence and faced the culture’s wrath,” that indirectly referenced her marriage. Vasquez displayed a Twitter post Heard published that also included the headline.

“I just didn’t notice the title,” Heard said.

Later Tuesday, Vazquez called Heard “the initial aggressor” in the relationship and a recording was played in court in which Heard was heard telling Depp “I can’t promise I won’t get physical … sometimes I get so mad, I lose it.”

Heard said the recording was taken out of context and that any physical contact with Depp was defensive, claiming, “I used my body to defend myself, which meant swinging” at Depp. “If it meant to get away, if it meant a sore face or a broken nose, you bet I would” strike the actor, she said.

When questioned by her attorney Elaine Bredehoft, Heard said she sought the help of an ear, nose, and throat doctor, but the testimony failed to continue because of Vazquez, who repeatedly objected to the testimony as hearsay and lack of evidence. No medical records from the visit exist, she said.

Following Heard was iO Tillett Wright, a freelance photographer who befriended the couple and was invited to live on their property during their marriage. Testifying via a pre-recorded video, Tillett Wright described Depp’s alcohol and drug abuse, alleging the actor told him he was addicted to OxyContin. He said he spent long hours with Depp and claimed the actor recounted PTSD he says he has from his traumatic childhood.

“Depp mixed substances constantly … when he got crazy and violent,” Tillett Wright said. However, he said he never saw Depp strike Heard, but he saw a clump of hair on the ground that he claimed Depp pulled from Heard’s head during an argument.

He also described the actor as paranoid and recalled an instance in which Depp allegedly accused him of conspiring with Heard to defecate on his bed. Depp accused him by phone, Tillett Wright said. After the conversation Tillett Wright said he heard Heard scream and suggested he believed Depp had struck her.

The final witness of the day was Raquel Pennington, a long-time friend of Heard who testified they had done cocaine together and that Heard was on Provigil separately. She added that Heard hit her on the cheek during a physical altercation. Pennington testified that she and Heard are no longer close friends because they’d grown apart.


May 16 court notes: Heard finishes direct examination, begins facing cross-examination

Heard’s testimony begins the morning of May 16

The courtroom drama continued Monday after a weeklong break. Under testimony from her own attorney, Heard characterized her role in the marriage as trying to temper Depp, whose alleged abuse she claims created unpredictable and dangerous behavior that affected them both.

Explaining why she chose to remain in the marriage despite the abuse, Heard said it felt “easier to take accountability for it than accept the senseless … nature” of the abuse.

In her testimony Monday, Heard said the first act of violence from Depp toward her occurred in early 2012. She claimed that she previously shared an incorrect date for when Depp was first violent toward her because she wanted to “forget” that period. But, she said, “you never forget the first time someone hits you like that.”

Heard claimed the police were called many times throughout their relationship and discussed looking at her therapist notes to determine the instances of physical violence that she claims occurred.

When asked why she didn’t “just remember” the instances, she claimed that their relationship was “violent” and “chaotic,” while also “loving” and “emotional,” so she said the “violence was almost normal.” She claimed throughout their relationship she dealt with different versions of Depp and the two had a safe word, “couch,” to use during fights. She claimed divorce was discussed in their relationship many times.


Evidence of bruises presented in court

Heard’s lawyers shared photos from the April 2015 premiere of her film “One More Time” in New York, which she said show “scars” on her arm from when the pair allegedly got into a fight in Australia a month earlier. Additional photos of Heard on the red carpet for “Magic Mike XXL” in July 2015 were shown, with her claiming, “You can see the scars on my body, my arms.”

She discussed going back to Australia in early 2015 when she claimed Depp had gotten sober for a period of time. She said the two were in a better place, even discussing “babies,” and said Depp had done a “complete 180” and was sober.

Heard recalled a train trip she and Depp took in July 2015, claiming she and Depp got into an argument the final night of their train trip because she claimed Depp wanted to be “allowed” to drink liquor and for her to “be OK with it.” She claimed Depp slapped her across her face and held her against the wall of their sleeper car by the neck “for what felt like a very long time,” slamming her against the wall multiple times.

“I remember thinking he could not even mean to kill me,” she said. “I remember being scared that he wouldn’t even mean to do it.”

Heard claimed Depp ripped part of her shirt off, exposing her breast, and, when she grabbed at his shirt, he took it off and wrapped it around her neck. Heard claimed she woke up the next morning with Depp’s shirt still around her neck and a “giant knot” on the back of her head.

Depp’s security guard, Malcolm Connolly, testified that Depp sustained a black eye on this train trip because Heard hit him, but Heard testified that she has multiple pictures of Depp from the train trip “and he’s uninjured.”

In one video played to jurors, Depp is seen swinging open kitchen cabinets to search for a wine glass while Heard questions him about his wine intake. Once Depp sees Heard is secretly videoing him, a struggle ensues. Heard explained she frequently recorded her husband because “I knew he wouldn’t remember” his behavior.

She claimed Depp’s substance use started again in August 2015 and their disagreements began again. She said she was considering a role that involved brief nudity, which she said she knew Depp would not like. She spoke about a previous film she shot, “London Fields,” that she said Depp was “unhappy” with, as she said Depp heard she did a sex scene in the film that she did not tell him about. She claimed that she did not do the sex scene; she said they used a body double for the sex scene in the film without her knowledge. The two watched a screening of the film together and she relayed that to Depp.

However, she said he was “irate” while they watched together, and she claimed that Depp believed she lied to him about the scene. She said a “week of hell” ensued from the screening and described multiple acts of physical violence from Depp.

In another pivotal moment from Monday morning, a now infamous audio recording was played in which Depp can be heard claiming that Heard punched him in the face. In the recording, Heard claimed she “hit” him but did not “deck” him or “punch” him. In the recording, she can also be heard admitting to starting the physical fight with Depp.

While discussing the recording on the stand, Heard said two altercations were discussed in the recording. In one incident, she said she was behind a door that Depp was trying to get past. She said the conversation in the recording was about the “disparity” between herself and Depp in their physical fights. She said when she mentioned hitting him in the recording, she was referring to how she claims Depp would “proactively punch” her and she would “have to resort to reactively hitting him.”

“I am talking about the difference between a punch, which Johnny did often, and me having to hit him in my defense,” she said. “I know the difference between those two and I’m highlighting the difference between those two, even if he wasn’t twice my size, they’re very different and that’s what I’m pointing out to him.”

In one example, she described trying to wedge open a door to a bathroom after she said she thought she heard signs — glass breaking, a thud on the floor — that Depp had passed out. Depp, in retaliation, she said, “angrily came up the side of the door swinging” at her, forcing the door to crush her toes.

During Depp’s testimony, he claimed that he was trying to avoid a confrontation with Heard and was avoiding her to do so. He claimed that Heard was attempting to open a bathroom door, while he was trying to close the door, and she “suddenly yelped in pain.” He claimed that while trying to see Heard’s injury on her foot, she kicked the bathroom door into his head. He said that after asking her what had allegedly just occurred, she “clocked” him in the jaw, which he said was a “shocker.” He said in his testimony that shortly after the incident, Heard denied any violence from her toward Depp had occurred.


Allegations from Heard on Depp’s mental health

Heard said Depp’s mental health was “falling apart” in early 2016. She alleged he was “erratic, irrational and didn’t seem connected to the reality that we were in.”

Heard discussed an alleged physical altercation with Depp that occurred after her 30th birthday party in 2016. She claimed that she carefully worded her feelings about Depp having missed her birthday party but an argument followed. She claimed that there was a “shoving match.” She said Depp threw a bottle of champagne at her that hit a painting, and she said Depp threw her phone out the window, which she said led her to throw his phone out the window as well. After describing more physical violence and verbal abuse from Depp that she claimed occurred, she said she attempted to call a truce between them. She said Depp told her “no one will ever love” her and left.

Regarding the incident of poop being found in the couple’s bed, Heard testified that Depp’s dog, Boo, had “bowel control issues for her entire life” because she’d eaten Depp’s marijuana as a puppy. “Sometimes it happened in bed,” Heard said. The day after her 30th birthday party, Heard said she and her friend left the dogs in bed while they packed their bags for Coachella.

Depp previously addressed the incident in his testimony, claiming his security guard, Sean Bett, showed him a photo of “human fecal matter” on his side of the bed he shared with Heard. Depp called the image “so bizarre and so grotesque” that he laughed in response to seeing it. Regarding Heard’s claim it was the dogs, Depp testified, “They’re teacup Yorkies. They weigh about 4 pounds each. It was not the dogs.” He claimed Heard called the incident a “prank.”

Heard denied claims that she had done this as a prank, saying she didn’t think it was funny and that she wasn’t in a pranking mood.

“I was at a crossroads in my life,” she said. “I’d just been attacked on my 30th birthday by my violent husband with whom I was desperately in love and knew I needed to leave. That was not really a jovial time and I don’t think that’s funny, period. That’s disgusting.”

Heard claimed Depp didn’t typically visit that residence.

When Depp’s mother died in May 2016, Heard claimed Depp wanted to come over because he said he needed his wife. While together, the two had an argument over the feces incident, which Heard said Depp instigated. Heard claimed Depp threw her phone at her face during an argument. Multiple photos were later shown, depicting what she described as the bruise of her face from the phone’s impact as well as the damage to the apartment Heard claimed was caused by Depp.

Heard said she refused to speak with the responding officers at the time because she wanted to “protect” Depp.

“I didn’t want him to be arrested. I didn’t want him to be in trouble. I didn’t want the world to know. I didn’t want this to come out,” she said.

Photos of the police officer’s business card they left at the time were also shown.

Heard testifies about filing for divorce from Depp

A text message from Depp to Heard the day after the alleged incident shows Depp telling Heard he was through with their relationship.

“I hope our divorce goes as quickly as possible and that it is as painless as possible,” he texted her. Later, text messages from Depp to Heard were shown in which he offered “profound apologies” for what happened the prior night. Heard said she had “already committed to filing for divorce.”

Heard said her decision to file for divorce “felt like the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do” at the time, saying, “I know I had to leave him. I knew I wouldn’t survive it if I didn’t.”

“The promise and the hope that I had had become less and less regular and more and more rare,” she added. “The monster had been this thing that was now the normal and not the exception. The violence was now normal and not the exception.”

Heard said she believes she “wouldn’t be here” if she hadn’t left Depp when she did.

Heard claimed she would cover up bruises on her face with makeup, after icing them to reduce swelling, because she didn’t want paparazzi to photograph her with them.

“No woman wants to walk around with a bruise on her face,” she said.

The court then took a break for lunch.


Heard’s direct examination ends

After breaking for lunch, Heard returned to the stand to conclude her direct examination by her lawyer.

Heard accused Depp’s team of running an alleged “smear campaign” against her following her filing for divorce and obtaining a temporary restraining order against him. “All I have is my name, and that’s exactly what he promised to take from me,” she claimed, saying she was called a “gold digger” and a “liar” amid their split. Because of this, Heard said the couple’s joint statement — in which they said “neither party has made false accusations for financial gain” — was important.

Regarding the $7 million divorce settlement, Heard said she “took far less than what they were offering” and what she was “entitled to.” She promised the entirety to charity — specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles — because she was “never interested in Johnny’s money.” Heard said she made donations to the charities as settlement installments came in and that she was unable to complete the full $3.5 million contribution to each organization because Depp sued her in March 2019. “I still fully intend to honor all of my pledges,” she said. “I would love for him [Depp] to stop suing me so I can.” Heard said the two organizations “understand” her situation and there is no deadline to fulfill her promised donations.

Heard discussed her reasoning for taking part in the 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post that prompted Depp to sue her, saying she was “trying to raise awareness” for an issue she cared about. “I was happy to weigh in on what I saw as the, you know, unique phenomena that women — typically women — experience in our culture when they come forward against somebody more powerful when they speak up about gender-based violence,” she said. “I thought I could lend my voice to that conversation. I thought I had something to say about that.”

Heard claimed that “every word” in the op-ed is true and she never intended to mention Depp in it at all. “It’s not about Johnny. The only one who thought it was about Johnny is Johnny,” she said. “It’s about me, what happened to me after Johnny.”

Heard said her own career has been negatively affected by some of the claims Depp has made about what did — or did not — happen in their marriage. After starring as Mera in 2017’s “Justice League” and 2018’s “Aquaman,” she claimed to have had to “fight hard” to stay in the forthcoming “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” and that the film’s creatives “took a bunch out” of her role. Heard also claimed to have only found work on the TV miniseries “The Stand” and the independent film “In the Fire” in recent years.

In closing her testimony, Heard claimed she wanted to put her relationship with Depp behind her for good. “I want to move on with my life. I have a baby. I want to move on,” she said. “I want Johnny to move on, too. I want him to leave me alone.”

Heard’s cross-examination by Depp’s lawyer begins

Heard testified Monday that she has yet to donate the full $7 million divorce settlement she pledged to charity in 2016. That admission is central to the defamation lawsuit Depp has waged against her for five weeks in a courtroom in Fairfax, Virginia. Heard insisted that she “pledged” the entirety of her divorce settlement, while Vasquez, an attorney for Depp, continually questioned if she had actually “donated” the money.

Under cross-examination, Heard testified that she has not been able to pay the charities — the ACLU and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles — because Depp sued her.

Vasquez noted that Heard had the total sum of the settlement in her accounts for 13 months before Depp announced he was taking her to trial. Heard also testified that, because of tax benefits to her ex-husband, she didn’t want Depp to donate the money to both charities directly but should send the money directly to her to do so.

“It was not his money to give away and reap tax benefits from,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Vasquez attempted to raise doubts in Heard’s testimony that Depp was physically abusive during their nearly two years of marriage. Heard told jurors under direct examination that she applied heavy makeup on her lips, chin, nose, temple and other areas of her body to hide bruising. “I always wear makeup. I’m certainly not going to walk around Los Angeles with bruises on my face,” she said.

Vasquez showed jurors a clip of Heard in a December 2015 appearance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” taped a day after Heard said Depp attacked her, splitting her lip, among other injuries. Vasquez used the clip to seemingly suggest that Heard has exaggerated the physical abuse to help her career. Despite Heard’s testimony that Depp broke her nose, Vasquez showed that Heard failed to produce medical records to support the claim.

In one dramatic back-and-forth, Vasquez pulled up a medical record from a doctor Heard visited the week of the alleged abuse that showed no documentation of physical injuries.

“It doesn’t seem to be documenting anything,” Heard said.

“Probably because there was nothing to document,” Vasquez replied.

Much of the evidence in both cases are text messages and cell phone video and photographs Heard secretly recorded of Depp during their marriage. Vasquez showed jurors some of those photographs that she suggested Heard staged. In one photograph of Depp unconscious in a chair while on vacation in the Bahamas, Heard testified that her ex-husband was not napping, as Vasquez suggested, but was passed out from drugs.

“Sleep is different. When you’re nodding off, you’re high on drugs,” she said.

Vasquez also showed text messages that Heard sent a friend of photographs she took of Depp sleeping — an act that contradicted Heard’s testimony that she was recording Depp to help him.

One photograph appeared to show drug paraphernalia, including four slim lines of cocaine. “It doesn’t look like anyone doing cocaine off that table does it,” Vasquez said about the photo. Heard explained to jurors that her sister had taught Depp how to use a tampon applicator “to put cocaine in your nose,” a procedure she suggested would leave no residue on the table.

The photograph also ended up in a text message to a friend, Vasquez showed. “Yay for morning,” Heard wrote in the message.

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