Johnny Depp’s lawyer grills Amber Heard at defamation trial

In the heated cross-examination, Camille Vasquez accused the actress of assaulting her ex-husband and severing his finger during a fight in Australia

Johnny Depp hugs his lawyer Camille Vasquez after she cross-examined Amber Heard.
Johnny Depp hugs his lawyer Camille Vasquez after she cross-examined Amber Heard.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (AP)

Would you give a huge hunting knife to someone you are afraid of and who assaults you? That was the question that Johnny Depp’s lawyer, Camille Vasquez, left hanging in the air on Tuesday during the defamation trial against the actor’s ex-wife, Amber Heard. Vasquez grilled the actress over and over again, but Heard stuck to her story. The lawyer’s goal was to undermine Heard’s credibility. And judging by Depp’s smile and the hug he gave Velasquez at the end of the interrogation, the actor believes she succeeded.

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for defaming him in an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Heard responded to Depp’s complaint by suing him for $100 million, claiming that he smeared her by calling her a liar. One side argues that Depp was an aggressive abuser, capable of sexually assaulting his wife with a bottle and physically abusing her over and over again, while the other claims the actor was the real victim of a marriage in which Heard humiliated and even attacked him.

Amber Heard, during Tuesday’s court session.
Amber Heard, during Tuesday’s court session.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (AP)

The great difference in the version of events has led to a high-tension trial. On Monday, Vasquez had already locked heads with Heard during cross-examination, forcing the actress to admit that she has still not fulfilled her promise to donate the $7 million of her divorce settlement to charity. But that was just a taste of things to come. Dozens of people, mainly Depp supporters, lined up overnight at the Fairfax courthouse to secure a seat in the courtroom for Tuesday’s session, which was even more heated.

The most theatrical moment came shortly after the session began, when Vasquez asked a court official to present a large knife, a gift from Heard to Depp in 2012, engraved with the Spanish phrase “Hasta la muerte” or “Until death.” Before the knife was shown to the court, Vasquez had gotten Heard to testify that Depp was already assaulting her in 2012. When the knife was brought out, Vasquez pounced, asking: “This is the knife you gave to the man who would get drunk and violent with you?”

A court officer with the knife that Amber Heard gave to Johnny Depp.
A court officer with the knife that Amber Heard gave to Johnny Depp.POOL (REUTERS)

Vasquez also tried to corner Depp about a fight the pair had in Australia, in which Heard accuses him of assaulting her, throwing objects at the wall and sexually assaulting her with a bottle. Depp claims that she was the one who threw a bottle at him and severed the tip of his finger. At the trial on Tuesday, the lawyer showed photos of graffiti painted on mirrors to indicate that their relationship was not very healthy. She pressed Heard to establish a sequence of events, but the actress was evasive.

Vasquez then played a recording of Depp and Heard discussing “the big fight” they had in Australia, while the former was filming parts of The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. In it, Depp could be heard saying he went to at least “five bathrooms and two bedrooms to escape the fight.” After playing the recording, Vasquez’s toughest questions began.

– This is what really happened in Australia isn’t it Miss Heard?

– I did knock on a bathroom door on the first night.

– No a bathroom door, five bathroom doors and two bedrooms.

– Johnny is not an accurate historian of what happened during that period of time, I’ll guarantee you that.

– The recording we just listened to, that’s exactly what happened in Australia. Mr Depp lost the tip of his finger after you threw a bottle at him. Isn’t that right?

– That is incorrect.

– 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. I couldn’t.

– And after he was injured, he had to hide from you, right? In five bathrooms, two bedrooms.

– That is incorrect.

– And you would pursue him?

– That is incorrect.

The cross-examination continued in the same tone. Vasquez got Heard to admit that sometimes she also took drugs, something which she has repeatedly accused Depp of doing. Vasquez showed an exchange of messages in which Heard wrote: “Hey baby, bring up something to drink and a joint. I’m in if you are.” Vasquez also accused Heard of editing a photo to make it look like someone had struck her across the face.

Heard was especially offended when the lawyer told her that it was Depp who got her the role in the movie Aquaman. “No, Ms Vasquez, I got myself that role by auditioning,” Heard replied.

Vasquez also brought up Heard’s arrest at the Seattle airport in 2009 for an incident with her then-girlfriend, photographer Tasya van Ree. Both have denied the abuse allegations and blamed the arrest on the homophobia of the officers.

Depp’s lawyer also went on the attack during the redirect examination with Heard’s lawyer. Vasquez objected several times, testing the patience of the rival lawyer.

After Heard’s statement, the court heard witness statements via video call. Nothing they have said this Tuesday has decisively tipped the balance. In the end, the jury must decide who they believe: Johnny Depp or Amber Heard. They both sound convincing. They are both professional actors.


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