Johnny Depp Ends Testimony Proclaiming He’s Victim Of Domestic Abuse; $50M Defamation Trial Expected To Hear From Amber Heard In Next Few Weeks – Update

By Ted Johnson, Dominic Patten


2nd UPDATE, 12:25 PM Johnny Depp ended his testimony in his $50 million defamation trial against Amber Heard on Monday with a declaration that he is the victim of domestic abuse, not her.

“Yes,” the actor said when asked by his lawyer in a final question if he was “a victim of domestic violence.”

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor and his lawyers sought to reclaim the narrative after several days of cross-examination, in which Heard’s attorney has barraged the jury with texts and audio of the actor using violent language and in angry outbursts.

In redirect, Depp has declared that Heard stood in the way of almost every positive move in his life during their time together up until their 2016 divorce. While he admitted last week that Heard was instrumental in his 2015 detox from opioids, Depp also painted his ex-wife as a potential trigger to a relapse.

Depp said that if Heard didn’t leave their L.A. residence and check into a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel for several days, “I would have gone straight back to the pills.” Heard did in fact go to the hotel as requested.

“That’s not me, that’s not who I have ever been,’ Depp said in one of his few succinct moments summing up the long expressed claims that he had been physically abusive to Heard. From a strategic POV that is the image and message Team Depp wants to leave the jury with after the roller coaster of his testimony over the last week.

To that, seeking to inject his own courtroom commentary at the defense team’s expense, Depp had to be mildly reprimanded by Judge Azcarate to “answer the questions.”

In fact, most of this final portion of the actor’s multi-day testimony was the legal equivalent of an Etch A Sketch in relation to the distinctly unflattering image presented by Heard’s defense team.Depp addressed that on Monday, as he was asked about claims that he vomited in bed as he slept. Depp admitted he did throw up in response to the stress of his relationship with Heard.

At another point, self-described “poor old junkie” Depp could be heard on a recording boosting to Heard that “I’m never getting clean and sober.” That was preceded much today by an audio of Heard talking to Depp about an occasion when he “beat the sh*t” out of her.

Bizarrely, Depp’s lawyers played another recording of the couple arguing over Depp wanting to walk out on Heard where the actor called her a “pain in the ass,” a “harpy” and a “bitch.” Additionally, the agitated Depp was heard saying that Heard had a “borderline personality disorder” as the actress told him that she loved him.

“I was done…I stated clearly, I don’t want to be with you,” Depp later told the court of the recording, which also had him asking Heard if she wanted to hit him in the ear “again.” No specifics were given of when Heard had allegedly struck the actor.

When asked by his lawyer Jessica Meyers how he felt in the final days of the couple’s marriage, Depp said he was “being nailed in one stop and not being able to do anything but react to her screaming like a Banshee and then telling me to calm down.” On one recording, Heard was crying and told Depp that he is “so f*cking mean” and a “bully.” “You are killing me,” Heard said at one point as Depp has an aide take his then wife away.

“I was broken, really at the end, couldn’t take it anymore,” Depp told the court of the end of relationship.

In a mid-2016 recorded conversation played for the court the couple were heard arguing over why their marriage went wrong and of her claims over abuse. “The abuse thing we gotta deal with that,” Depp said at one point in the recording, as the allegations had been made public. “You forced me to by going on the offense,” Heard can be heard replying emotionally.

Like Depp, Heard will be taking the stand in the trial. Having countersued for $100 million in the summer of 2020, the actress is expected to give testimony in the next week or so.

The five-week trial, which started on April 11, later on Monday heard from Ben King, who served as a house manager for Depp and Heard in the UK in 2014 and in Australia in 2015.  The staffer has begun detailing arguments he overheard between the couple.

Another witness is expected to take the stand remotely via video link later today.

UPDATE, 10:24 AM: Johnny Depp wasn’t being threatening in his texts, but simply using “abstract humor,” the former Pirates of the Caribbean star told a Virginia courtroom today as he continued testifying as part of his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard.

Having had the often vulgar, violent, rage and “monster”-filled communications read out in court under cross examinations from Heard’s defense team, the sunglasses-wearing Depp was given wide berth at the beginning of the third week of trial to reframe what he wrote actually meant in his mind.

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Calling his now infamous texts to Avengers alum Paul Bettany and employees often “irreverent, and abstract humor” based in part on Monty Python routines, Depp followed the careful lead of his attorney Jessica Meyers that his correspondence was a method of a handling a “difficult or unpleasant situation, we would, you know, do our best to deal with it with humor as opposed to just a constant complaint or whining or anything of that nature.”

“It’s important to know that none of it was ever intended to be real,” Depp went on to say of the 2013 texts that detailed drowning and killing Heard and having sex with her dead body, among others notions. “And the language that’s used – which I, yes I am ashamed that that has to be spread on the world like peanut butter,” he added in obviously drafted language he has used over and over since those texts became public in his 2020 unsuccessful UK libel trial.

In another instance, the actor said that harsh texts to an employee were “gobbledygook,” and written “in jest, to get a rise out of him, to get a reaction out of him.” Depp went on to say that “pain” was often the primary intention behind his use of exaggerated terms and violent language.

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Coming after days of irritation by Depp under the questioning of methodical defense lawyer Ben Rottenborn and an attempt to portray the past Oscar nominee as a domestic abuser and a drunk and drug addict, today’s stint on the stand offered a potential reset in the eyes of the jury.

Even under follow up examination from his own lawyer, a much more conservatively-dressed Depp today seemed unable to recall details of communication with others and once again returned to the long winded answers that characterized his initial testimony last week. He also tried to flip the narrative of his alcohol intake despite the seemingly overwhelming evidence presented by the defense in their cross. “My drinking was not to excessive,” Depp insisted Monday. “I never went into blackouts,” he went on to say, in a clear break with the depiction the defense presented in audio tapes, photographs and communications from Depp himself to a wide group of individuals.

As she has on every day since the five-week long trial began on April 11, a sometimes bespectacled Heard looked on from the nearby defense table as Depp’s testimony went on. The Aquaman star also conferred with her lawyers as her ex-husband spoke. Heard is set to take the stand herself in Judge Penny Azcarate’s courtroom at some as yet undefined date.

In pre-trial filings Bettany had also been called as a witness, as have Elon Musk and James Franco. However, it seems the WandaVision actor will not be testifying remotely after all, we’ve learned. Dragged into Depp’s attempt to sue Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid for calling the Pirates actor a “wife-beater,” Bettany has said it was “”embarrassing” to see the texts made public then.

Bettany was on the preliminary witness list that Depp’s side submitted to the court back in late March. While not reading too much into the absence of the actor now after Depp’s problematic testimony, it is suffice to say that trials are often in flux and witness lists can be more wishlists that carved in stone.

Unable to get Depp’s March 2019-filed case based on her late 2018 Washington Post op-ed on domestic violence dismissed, Heard countersued Depp for $100 million in the summer of 2020.

The court is currently on its regular lunch break and will resume later today. The trial runs Monday to Thursday from 10 AM to 5 PM ET usually, but Judge Azcarate said just now that she expects to go to 5:30 PM ET today because of a “late start.”

If Depp’s testimony does finish up before then, at least two other witnesses are expected to appear today. Neither as high profile as Depp and Heard, one will be in the Fairfax County Courthouse itself and one will speak via live video link, we are told.

PREVIOUSLY, 9:11 a.m.:
A lengthy cross examination of Johnny Depp in his $50 million defamation trial against Amber Heard concluded on Monday morning with the actress’s attorney again focusing on a series of the actor’s violent words in texts as well as audio of their arguments.

Depp appeared agitated as attorney Benjamin Rottenborn introduced a series of unflattering articles written about Depp before December, 2018, when Heard published a Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Rottenborn was attempting to show that the actor’s reputation was damaged well before the Washington Post piece ran.

Rottenborn went through the articles and read their headlines, with Depp was described as drunk, late to the set and a box office failure. Depp, on the witness stand, tried to interject his own opinion of them, calling them “hit pieces” in some cases orchestrated by Heard’s publicity team.

When Rottenborn read the headline and subhead from a 2018 Rolling Stone profile, “The Trouble With Johnny Depp: Multimillion Dollar Lawsuits, A Haze of Booze and Hash and a Lifestyle He Can’t Afford. Inside The Trials of Johnny Depp,” the actor said, “You should read the article.” That drew some laughs in the courtroom.

Later, Rottenborn, amid repeated objections from Depp’s side, attempted to run through what has been a central argument of Heard’s team: That the Washington Post op-ed, which doesn’t mention Depp, also doesn’t contain any of the details of his alleged domestic abuse. Heard’s attorney noted that Depp didn’t try to get the restraining order lifted in 2016 nor did he try to clear his name in a divorce trial.

“There were no charges pressed against me,” Depp said.

He said that he took action after the Post op-ed because “it was the only time I was able to speak and use my own voice.”

This was Depp’s fourth day on the stand in the trial in Fairfax, VA.

Much of Rottenborn’s cross-examination has been devoted to showing the jury a barrage of texts, audio and video as they have tried to show Depp’s pattern of drug and alcohol abuse and, in some instances, references to violence in relation to Heard.

On Monday, Rottenborn played eight different audio clips. In one, Heard tells him, “Go put your cigarette out on someone else.” Depp says to her, “Shut up fat ass.” In court, Depp said that Heard had a penchant for “grossly exaggerated” comments. In another clip, Depp is heard referring to one of their arguments as a “bloodbath.” Other clips were unintelligible.

Heard’s attorney also referred to a text from August, 2016 that Depp sent to his agent in which he wrote, “I can only hope that Karma kicks in and takes the gift of breath from her.” Throughout, Rottenborn has tried to show that Heard was grappling with Depp’s substance abuse. He presented a text chain she had with Depp, as the actor was trying to detox, in which she wrote, “The coke you have done today and all the booze you have drank today, has it helped us?”

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