Johnny Depp defamation trial resumes with ex-wife Heard on witness stand
Johnny Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, will return to the witness stand on Monday in a defamation trial filled with graphic allegations of physical and emotional abuse from both sides.
Jurors in the case have listened to explicit recordings of the couple’s arguments and testimony about a severed finger, feces in a bed, and an alleged sexual assault with a bottle.
Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Heard has counter-sued for $100 million, arguing Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star testified that he never hit Heard and argued that she was the abuser in their relationship. In early 2015 shortly after their wedding, Heard threw a vodka bottle that cut off the top of Depp’s right middle finger, he said.
In April 2016, Depp said, feces were found in the couple’s bed. One of his security guards testified that Heard told him the feces were left there as a “horrible practical joke gone wrong.”
Heard, best known for her role in “Aquaman,” has denied severing Depp’s finger and said she only hit him to defend herself or her sister. In tearful testimony about that night, she said Depp assaulted her by inserting a liquor bottle in her vagina while he threatened to kill her.
Heard has not yet been cross-examined by Depp’s lawyers.
The legal case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece Heard authored in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing him. The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2017 after less than two years of marriage.
Depp, once among Hollywood’s biggest stars, said Heard’s allegations cost him “everything.” A new “Pirates” movie was put on hold, and Depp was replaced in the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise, a “Harry Potter” spinoff.
Heard’s attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27.
Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against the Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife-beater.” A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.
Depp’s lawyers filed the case in Fairfax County, Virginia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Alistair Bell)