2nd UPDATE, 12:24 PM PT: “I’ve never assaulted anyone I’ve been romantically involved with,” Amber Heard told a Virginia courtroom Tuesday at the end of her often harsh cross examination in the $50 million defamation trial that Johnny Depp launched against his former spouse in March 2019.
With Heard friend and author iO Tillett Wright up next as a witness via deposition, the actress has now completed her testimony in the feral matter, though the waves from her time on the stand will be felt right to the very of the trial and likely beyond.
“He’s knows he’s guilty — why can’t he look at me?” Heard said later of her claims against Depp of physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse, under redirect with her own lawyer Elaine Bredehoft. The sunglasses-wearing Depp has been avoiding eye contact with his ex-wife since she took the stand.
“I survived that man and I’m here,” Heard added with a cracking voice. During this exchange, Depp could be seen laughing with one of his lawyers less than stone’s throw away from Heard in the courtroom.
“I realized that’s what I was entitled to but I didn’t want it, it’s that simple,” Heard told the court of why she didn’t seek the approximately $32 million from Depp she was entitled to in their divorce under California law. Although Heard left the marriage with a $7 million settlement that she said she would donate to charity, past blockbuster star Depp’s team has over and over tried to portray Heard as a golddigger.
“What extortion?” Heard proclaimed to Depp attorney Camille Vasquez when the lawyer accused the actress of being after her client’s cash – a particular low moment in a trial that has gone almost as deep as the Mariana Trench on more than one occasion.
In that context, Depp’s lawyers may have lacked an actual kitchen sink, but they tried to throw one figuratively at Heard today during further cross examination of the Aquaman actress in the $50 million defamation trial. That strategy continued during the redirect, with Depp’s lawyers calling out “objection” on almost every question by Bredehoft, about half of which Judge Penny Azcarte sustained.
Before that, cooking, motherhood, “smear campaigns,” exercise, Depp’s unsuccessful “wife beater” UK libel suit, deleted tweets as well as a pretty dysfunctional relationship made up part of Vasquez’s parrying with Heard this afternoon. The blunt lawyer hoped to entrap the actress in her contradictions and assertions. Certainly, the playing in court of a 2016 audio tape of Depp and Heard bickering over responsibility of violence in their relationship blurred the lines of who did what first in what has been a series of messy and toxic revelations since the trial began April 11 and even before. Heard has long alleged that there were various types of abuse from an often booze- and drug-sodden Depp in the couple’s relationship.
Although he said nothing to that effect during the divorce and its fallout, Depp in 2019 insisted he was actually the one abused in the relationship. He also has insisted that the late 2018 Washington Post op-ed Heard penned about being a survivor of domestic violence “devastated” the former Pirates of the Caribbean star’s already waning career. Being that this bitter big-bucks battle is a defamation trial, it should be pointed out that the op-ed in the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet never mentions Depp by name. It should also be noted that Depp never sued the Post, though he did file in Virginia ostensibly because that’s where the paper is printed.
As he has almost every moment his ex-wife has been on the stand, Depp never looked at her and mainly kept his eyes focused on the table in front of him. Thereby, the actor stayed true to his 2016 pledge to Heard that she would never see his eyes again – for what it’s worth. Depp and his other main lawyer Ben Chew leaned in several times to whisper to each other during a sidebar in the proceedings, with the attorney covering his mouth with his hand to avoid the celebrity lip-reading gangs. Later during redirect and in a nod to how absurd parts of this spectacle have become, Heard’s lawyer made sure the jury heard that Depp had actually made eye contact with Heard since his pledge – specifically at mediation conferences the separated couple and their then-legal teams had in 2016.
Heard told the court that in a second mediation in Los Angeles in July 2016, Depp slipped her his new phone number and a note that read “I’ll love you forever my Slim, dead or alive.”
As has been the case for the past two days, former Depp lawyer Adam Waldman became the equivalent of an unindicted co-conspirator with the frequent mentions of his name and statements about Heard he’s made to the media being brought up. Waldman’s comments on behalf of Depp throwing severe shade on Heard’s assault and abuse claims make up the thrust of the actress’ $100 million countersuit filed in the summer of 2020.
Also, like Monday, the pointed cross examination of Heard by Vasquez has been frequently interrupted by objections from the defense table and sidebars with Azcarte – a tactic both sides are employing with seemingly little discretion at this frayed juncture.
In a classic case of cross examination with more than a few snide asides today, Vasquez’s attempt to paint Heard as the aggressor in the marriage is of course but one swing of the pendulum in the trial.
The fact is that at this point, five weeks into the trial, neither Heard nor Depp are looking like candidates for sainthood. The fact is also that Depp has a high bar to reach to prove defamation; with a single example of abuse in the couple’s relationship, Heard’s attorneys could establish the validity of the op-ed. Yet, despite the opinion of supporters of both Heard and Depp, the matter is a long way off from that, in relative terms.
Closing arguments, scheduled for May 27, will be where the lawyers on both sides try to seal the deal with the jury, the only opinion that matters.
UPDATED, 10:21 AM PT: Johnny Depp’s attorney challenged one piece of evidence that has been at the heart of Amber Heard’s claim that the actor struck her with a phone in a confrontation in May, 2016: Photos taken afterward in which her face appears reddish.
“Isn’t it true that you just edited these photographs?” attorney Camille Vasquez asked Heard.
“No, I have never edited the photograph,” Heard replied.
“You just enhanced the saturation from one of these photos to make your face look more red?”
“No, that is incorrect. I didn’t touch it,” Heard said.
She said that one of the photos is different than the other because a light was turned on to show the extent of her injuries.
Vasquez: Isn't it true that you edited this photograph? That you enchanced one to make it look more red? #AmberHeard: No, that is not true. #JohnnyDepp pic.twitter.com/B29BYm3qQb
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) May 17, 2022
The obvious goal was to raise doubts in the jurors’ minds about the veracity of the photos.
Later on Tuesday morning, Depp’s legal team focused on the aftermath of the May 21, 2016 argument at the Depp-Heard penthouse in downtown Los Angeles’s Eastern Columbia building. Police were called, but Heard did not file a report. She did file for divorce several days later and obtained a domestic violence restraining order.
Vasquez played elevator security camera footage from the Eastern Columbia building showing that actor James Franco arrived to visit Heard the next evening, on May 22. She also went down the list of witnesses who testified that they did not notice any injuries on Heard’s face after the argument with Depp.
At one point, Vasquez got a bit snarky. She showed a photo that was taken of Heard, with her injuries, at the courthouse when she obtained the restraining order.
Vasquez asked Heard if she was “having a photoshoot inside the courthouse while you are getting” a restraining order.
“I would not characterize it that way,” she said. Heard said that she did not put on makeup before the courthouse appearance. “It was the only time I walked out of my house without makeup on,” she said, adding that a friend advised her not to do so.
Later, Vasquez challenged Heard on the Washington Post op ed and its headline, “I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence, And Faced Our Culture’s Wrath.”
Heard said that she did not write the headline, and had not publicly accused Depp of sexual assault, as opposed to domestic abuse, and did not intend to until he filed his defamation lawsuit. “I did not write” the headline, Heard said.
Asked by Vasquez why she didn’t request that the Post change it, given that she also tweeted out a link to the story, Heard said, “I didn’t ask them, nor did I notice it, nor did I need to,” she said.
Jurors also heard a lengthy, expletive filled audio recording of one of Depp and Heard’s arguments, where she belittles him and calls him a “sellout.”
“I was expressing frustration about his criticism of my career and the problems it caused within the dynamic of our relationship,” Heard said.
“So you call him a sellout and a joke?” Vasquez asked.
“I called him horrible, ugly things. As you can hear, we spoke to each other in a really horrible way,” she said
When Vasquez suggested that Depp got her the role in Aquaman, Heard seemed surprised by the question. “Excuse me?”
“Mr. Depp got you that role in Aquaman, didn’t he?” Vasquez repeated.
“No, Miss Vasquez. I got myself that role by auditioning.”
PREVIOUSLY, 8:33 AM PT: Amber Heard faced another morning of contentious testimony Tuesday, as one of Johnny Depp’s attorneys tried to raise doubts in the jury’s mind of her claims that her ex-husband assaulted her.Camille Vasquez challenged Heard over her timeline of events of an argument she had with Depp in March 2015, when they were in Australia at a rented home while he was shooting a movie. During the confrontation, the top of one of Depp’s fingers was cut off. He claims that Heard caused the injury when she threw a vodka bottle at him. Her attorneys claim that Depp injured himself, and she has testified that Depp sexually assaulted her with a bottle during the confrontation.
Vasquez asked Heard multiple times about the sequence of events during the fight: when she said that Depp smashed a phone, severed his finger and pinned her down. But Heard said that she could not recall the sequence of events and has not claimed otherwise.
At points, Vasquez’s cross examination became more of a matter of reminding the jury the contrasting claims of what happened.
“Mr. Depp lost the tip of his finger after you threw a bottle at him, isn’t that right?” Vasquez said.
“That is incorrect,” Heard said, glancing at times over at the jury.
“You’re the one who assaulted someone with a bottle in Australia, isn’t that right, Miss Heard?”
“I didn’t assault Johnny in Australia. I didn’t assault Johnny ever,” Heard responded.
Then, Vasquez stated to Heard, “That night in Australia, after you cut off his finger with a bottle, you weren’t scared of him at all.”
Looking toward the jury, Heard said, “This is a man who tried to kill me, of course it is scary, he’s also my husband.”
Vasquez also noted that Heard did not seek medical treatment after the alleged assault. “There is not a single medical record for any of these injuries,” she said.
Depp’s legal team has claimed that it was Depp who was a victim of assault and his then-wife was frequently belittling and confrontational. Vasquez, sometimes throwing in sarcastic asides as she questions Heard, has spent a great deal of her cross examination highlighting contradictions in the actress’ claims of assault.
Earlier in the morning, Vasquez challenged Heard on why she gave Depp a knife as a gift in 2012, given that she testified that he was physically violent to her at the time.
As the actual knife was shown in the courtroom, Vasquez asked, “That is the knife you gave to the man who was hitting you, right Miss Heard?”
She answered, “I wasn’t worried that he was going to stab me with it when I gave it to him, that is for certain.”
Heard said that 2012 was the “best of times” in their relationship because Depp was sober during part of the year.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million for defamation over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which Heard wrote that she “became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.” Depp has denied her claims of abuse. She has counter sued for $100 million over claims that she fabricated her stories.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.