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Johnny Depp's attorneys question remote witnesses as trial in suit against ex-wife Amber Heard continues

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Shocking moments in Johnny Depp's testimony
15 shocking moments from Johnny Depp's testimony in trial against Amber Heard 11:35

Johnny Depp's attorneys presented recorded testimony and testimony from remote witnesses Thursday as they continued his case against ex-wife Amber Heard. The latest witnesses came after Depp's attorneys presented recorded depositions from Los Angeles Police Department officers who responded to Depp and Heard's home after a fight, as well as a doorman and a former agent Wednesday.

Depp is suing Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post referring to herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse." 

The article doesn't mention Depp by name, but his lawyers say the article contains "defamation by implication," arguing that it clearly refers to allegations of domestic abuse made by Heard when she filed for divorce in 2016. Depp said the Post article contributed to an unfairly ruined reputation that made him a Hollywood outcast and cost him his role in the lucrative "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise. Heard's attorneys say only Depp is to blame for his marred career.

On Thursday, the court heard testimony from the CEO and General Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Terence Dougherty, who said Heard had voiced her desire to donate $3.5 million to the non-profit — half of her divorce settlement from Depp. The ACLU nominated Heard as an ambassador and drafted the op-ed for The Washington Post.

Dougherty said that Heard had not donated $3.5 million, and had paid $350,000 directly, in addition to a $100,000 check from Johnny Depp which was credited to Heard's amount.

According to additional evidence introduced Thursday, Heard pushed to have details of her marriage with fellow actor Johnny Depp included in the article, which was strategically timed by both the ACLU and Heard to coincide with the release of her new film "Aquaman." 

Dougherty testified that numerous ACLU lawyers reviewed the article at various stages, and asked Heard's lawyers to review the piece as well to ensure it did not run afoul of a non-disclosure agreement she had with Depp in connection with the couple's 2016 divorce.

During those discussions, Heard sent back an edited version approved by her lawyers that "specifically neutered much of the copy regarding her marriage," according to an email from Jessica Weitz, an ACLU employee who coordinated with Heard.

According to the email, though, Heard was looking for a way to have a deleted passage restored to the article.

The various drafts of the articles were not shown to the jury, so it's not clear how many personal details were in the first draft and how much Heard's lawyers had excised. But the final version contains very little about Heard's personal experiences and doesn't mention Depp at all. In addition to the passage about "a public figure representing domestic abuse," in another passage she writes, "I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse."

Dougherty also testified that "the language that wound up in the final op-ed piece was very different from the original language" in the draft, Dougherty said. "It did not refer directly to Ms. Heard's relationship with Johnny Depp."

Depp Heard Lawsuit
Actor Johnny Depp listens in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Va., Wednesday, April 27, 2022.  Jonathan Ernst / AP

While the libel lawsuit is supposed to center on whether Depp was defamed in the article, most of the trial has focused on ugly details of the couple's brief marriage. 

Depp has denied ever striking Heard. Heard's attorneys say Depp physically and sexually abused her and that Depp's denials lack merit because he was often drunk and high to the point of blacking out.

Wednesday marked the 11th day in the trial, which is expected to last a month. Depp himself concluded a grueling four days on the witness stand Monday; Heard is expected to testify later in the trial.

 

Depp's lawyers show recorded testimony from LAPD officers on April 27

Police officers who responded to a domestic violence call at the penthouse of actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard say they saw no marks on her face after a 2016 fight between the couple in which Heard says she was assaulted. Jurors at Depp's libel trial against his ex-wife watched recorded depositions Wednesday from officers who say they saw Heard crying but no visible signs of injury. 

The incident occurred six days before Heard was at a Los Angeles courthouse to apply for a temporary restraining order with a clear mark visible on her face that she said had Depp inflicted during a fight.

Depp Heard Lawsuit
Actor Amber Heard appears in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Va., Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife actress Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP) Jonathan Ernst / AP

Los Angeles police officer Tyler Hadden, one of the officers who responded to the couple's penthouse apartment on May 21, 2016, said Heard refused to talk to officers and had no signs of an injury, although he acknowledged she'd been crying and was red-faced.

"Just because I see a female with pink cheeks and pink eyes doesn't mean something happened," he said in a recorded deposition played for jurors Wednesday.

Heard's lawyers, in their questions, have suggested that Heard could have covered her injuries with makeup, because at that point she still wanted to protect Depp. They also asked officers why they didn't investigate a potential case of domestic violence more thoroughly.

Wednesday marked the 10th day in the trial, which is expected to last a month.

 

Testimony from island manager and forensic psychologist on April 26

The manager of Johnny Depp's private island in the Bahamas gave testimony Tuesday about an alleged altercation on the island between the actor and his ex-wife Amber Heard in 2015, while a forensic psychologist testified that Heard suffers from borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder, as the civil lawsuit continues to wallow in the couple's personal issues. 

Tara Roberts, who has been the manager of the island for around 15 years, said by video link to the court in Fairfax, Virginia, that Heard appeared to injure Depp with a can during a fight in 2015.

"Amber was telling him that he was a washed-up actor," said Robert. "He was going to die a fat, lonely old man. Then you heard. 'You hit me with a can,' you heard Johnny say, 'You hit me with a can.'"

Depp Heard Lawsuit
Actress Amber Heard talks to her attorney in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday, April 26, 2022.  Brendan Smialowski / AP

Roberts testified that after the argument, Depp arrived at the cafe nearby with an injury to the bridge of his nose. Roberts said that Heard tried to stop him leaving by clawing at him and that she "didn't observe any" marks on Heard.

Also Tuesday, a forensic psychologist hired by Depp's legal team took the stand. The psychologist, Shannon Curry, said she reached her diagnosis during 12 hours of interviews with Heard, as well as from reviewing her mental-health records.

Curry also testified that Heard does not suffer post-traumatic stress disorder from her relationship with Depp, as Heard has claimed.

Histrionic personality disorder, Curry said, is associated with "drama and shallowness," and a need to be the center of attention.

She said there's a correlation in the disorder with people who are physically attractive and "utilize their looks to get that attention."

 

Depp's testimony on April 25

Actor Johnny Depp concluded a grueling four days on the witness stand Monday, telling jurors in a calm voice that he filed his libel lawsuit against his ex-wife because it was his best chance to reclaim his reputation, just hours after they heard audio clips of him berating his wife with coarse vulgarities.

"It was the only time I was able to fight back and use my own voice," Depp said of his decision to sue Heard.

He continued to deny that he ever hit Heard, and accused her of hitting him and throwing items including paint cans and vodka bottles at him. And jurors heard an audio clip of a conversation between Depp and Heard in which she seems to taunt him and suggests he won't be believed or respected if he were to publicly cast her as an abuser.

Johnny Depp returns to the witness stand in defamation trial 04:35

"Tell them, I, Johnny Depp, I'm a victim of domestic abuse ... and see how many people believe or side with you," Heard says on the recording.

Earlier Monday, though, they heard recordings in which Depp referred to the violence that could ensue if their arguments were allowed to escalate.

"The next move, if I don't walk away ... it's going to be a bloodbath, like it was on the island," Depp says on the recording.

In other clips, Depp loudly shouts vulgarities at his wife, calling her a degrading name and yelling, "You stupid f—-" at her.

The clips were part of a lengthy cross-examination of Depp that began last week and concluded late Monday morning.

On redirect Monday afternoon, Depp sought to explain some of his coarse language. He said he was often speaking figuratively or making inside jokes with friends, but added, "I'm ashamed that that has to be spread on the world like peanut butter."

And he again denied that he cut off his own finger during a fight with Heard, even though he told people as much at the time. He now says the finger was severed when Heard threw a vodka bottle at him.

The jury has seen dozens of Depp's texts to friends regarding his drinking, drug use and interactions with his then-wife, as well as his notes of contrition to Heard and her father.

He called the drug addiction accusations against him "grossly embellished," though he acknowledged taking many drugs.

Watch highlights in the video above.

 

Depp's testimony on April 21

Attorneys for actor Amber Heard sought to undermine Johnny Depp's libel lawsuit against her during cross-examination Thursday by spending hours in court focused on the actor's drinking, drug use and texts he sent to friends — including one about wanting to kill and defile his then-wife.

"I, of course, pounded and displayed ugly colors to Amber on a recent journey," Depp said in a text message to a friend, the actor Paul Bettany, in July 2013, which was shown to jurors.

"I am an insane person and not so fair headed after too much of the drink," Depp continued. "Weed, pills ... Fine!!! Booze??? My capacity is too large and I won't stop ... Ugly and sad ... Oh, how I love it."

Actor Johnny Depp takes the stand, testifies against ex-wife Amber Heard 03:46

Heard lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn also focused on another exchange that year between Depp and Bettany in which Depp wrote: "Let's burn Amber!!!"

Bettany responded: "Having thought it through I don't think we should burn Amber."

Depp texted: "Let's drown her before we burn her!!! I will (expletive) her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she's dead."

Depp has previously apologized to the jury for the vulgar language in the texts and said that "in the heat of the pain I was feeling, I went to dark places."

Rottenborn also showed the jury one of Depp's texts to Bettany in 2014 in which he referenced whiskey, pills and cocaine.

The texts were sent during a period in which Depp said he had stopped drinking. And they were sent around the time of a private flight from Boston to Los Angeles, during which Heard had said that Depp became blackout intoxicated and assaulted her.

Rottenborn presented texts that Depp sent to Bettany that said he drank "all night before I picked Amber up to fly to LA this past Sunday … Ugly, mate … No food for days … Powders … Half a bottle of Whiskey, a thousand red bull and vodkas, pills, 2 bottles of Champers on plane …"

Depp had previously testified that he took two oxycodone pills — an opiate to which he admits he was addicted at the time — and locked himself in the plane bathroom and fell asleep to avoid her badgering. He also disputes that he was drunk on the flight, saying he drank only a glass of champagne as he boarded the plane.

See highlights in the video above.

 

Depp's testimony on April 20

Actor Johnny Depp's second day of testimony Wednesday included details about the former couple's fights and substance use.

Heard has said the first time she was assaulted was when Depp slapped her in 2013 after she made fun of a tattoo he had — one that used to say "Winona Forever" when he was dating the actress Winona Ryder that he altered to "Wino Forever" after they broke up.

"It didn't happen," he said of the alleged assault. "Why would I take such great offense to someone making fun of a tattoo on my body? That allegation never made any sense to me."

US-COURT-DEPP-HEARD
Actor Johnny Depp testifies during his defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, April 20, 2022. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Later, he addressed an alleged assault on a private plane flight in 2014 from Boston to Los Angeles during which he said he took oxycodone pills — an opiate to which he admits he was addicted at the time — and drank Champagne. Heard has said Depp became blackout intoxicated and assaulted her on the plane ride. He also discussed a violent 2015 argument in Australia that resulted in the tip of his middle finger being cut off. He said Heard was irate that Depp's lawyers had asked her to sign a post-nuptial agreement.

"I don't know what a nervous breakdown feels like, but that's probably the closest I've ever been," he said.

Depp said he began to write on the walls in his own blood to recount lies in which he had caught Heard.

Depp told hospital doctors he had injured himself, and contemporaneous text messages introduced as evidence refer to Depp injuring himself. Depp testified he lied about the cause of the injury to protect her. Heard's lawyers have said the laws of physics don't support Depp's story and they will introduce evidence to prove that.

Depp also gave a graphic description of a final fight as the couple drifted toward divorce, accusing Heard and her friends of pretending that he was assaulting her. Soon after, Heard sought a restraining order and was photographed with marks on her face.

The fight had started as Depp said he'd realized it was time for the couple to split. The argument intensified, he said, as Depp accused her of leaving human fecal matter on his side of the bed in the penthouse they'd shared. He said Heard kept denying it, blaming it on their small dogs, but he was convinced she was lying.

Depp said he used drugs and drank alcohol as a way to cope with Heard's abuse and said she was also a heavy drinker. Depp said he at one point stopped drinking to try to save the relationship, but Heard refused to abstain.

 

Depp's testimony on April 19

The trial began more than a week earlier, but, prior to Tuesday, jurors had only seen Depp sitting silently with his team of lawyers as each side has tried to embarrass the other in a trial that Heard's lawyers accurately predicted would turn into a mudslinging soap opera.

Actor Johnny Depp takes the stand, testifies against ex-wife Amber Heard 03:46

After denying Heard's abuse allegations, Depp spoke at length about a childhood in which he said physical abuse from his mother was "constant."

Depp said Heard's allegations of his substance abuse have been "grossly embellished" and that there have been no moments where he's been out of control. 

Watch more of the highlights in the video above.

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