The defamation trial between actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Amber Heard, is entering its final chapter. If there are no delays, experts hope that it will be over by the end of next week, with each side giving their closing arguments.
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. While Heard maintains that Depp physically abused her and even sexually assaulted her with a bottle, the actor says he never struck a woman in his life and was, in fact, the victim in the relationship.
Depp and Heard have both taken the stand, presenting contrasting versions of what happened in their relationship. On Wednesday, it was Heard’s witnesses’ who took the stand. These included Heard’s friends and sister, Whitney Henriquez, who took the surname of her husband.
None of the witnesses claimed to see Depp physically abusing Heard, but several said they noticed scratches, bruises and other signs of possible aggression on the actress. Others heard him yelling or swearing and behaving in an uncontrolled and violent manner. Given all of the witnesses on Wednesday were called by Heard, their testimony did not come as a surprise.
Henriquez, who closely resembles her sister, said Heard went from being a cheerful, bright and happy person to being a ghost of her old self. She told the court that Heard’s weight dropped to “100lbs soaking wet” and she was “emaciated, not sleeping, she developed a heart condition, her eyes were sunken in.” Henriquez –who tried her luck as an actress, appearing in the movie Homo erectus – said Depp was lovely, kind and generous when sober, but became violent and threw objects when he was drunk.
Henriquez said that she suspected Depp of hitting her sister. Under cross-examination, Depp’s lawyer, Camille Vasquez, put her on the spot by asking if she herself had ever encouraged Depp to hit Heard. Henriquez admitted that she had joked about it, but only because she wasn’t aware of the abuse at that point. “I would never have said that knowing what I know now.” She also told the court about the kinds of vulgar expressions Depp used, especially when he was drunk or high.
Henriquez appeared in court, but most of the witnesses on Wednesday gave their testimony in pre-recorded video depositions made in the leadup to the trial between 2019 and 2022. One of the most emotional testimonies was from Raquel Pennington, Heard’s friend and neighbor, who described, between sobs, seeing signs of physical violence in photographs of the actress: black eyes, swollen nose, a bloody lip. Pennington said she had never seen Depp hit Heard, but had seen cuts and signs of injury on Heard’s body.
#AmberHeard's friend got emotional during a video deposition while explaining Heard's facial injuries. "It's a photo of Amber's face with two black eyes, and swollen bottom lip, swollen nose," Raquel Pennington said. @LawCrimeNetwork pic.twitter.com/rwHhxcenLH— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) May 18, 2022
When asked if Heard had faked the injuries with makeup, Pennington replied: “No, the opposite. She often had to cover bruises and injuries on her face with makeup.” She also denied conspiring with Heard to make it appear as though Depp had trashed the actress’s penthouse.
“I was scared for Amber. I was sad for her and I was also sad for Johnny as he was my friend too [...] I was worried that when he turned he might accidentally do something that was worse than he ever intended,” she said, adding that she heard Depp directly refer to himself as “the monster.”
Other witnesses included one of Heard’s ex-girlfriends, who reported being afraid of Depp and seeing the actress’s face red and swollen; Heard’s former make-up artist Melanie Inglessis, who testified that she had covered injuries on Heard’s face before a December 2015 appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden; and Kristina Sexton, Heard’s former acting coach, who said the actress came to most sessions in tears.
The trial was interrupted when one of the court observers broke into a fit of uncontrollable laughter and had to leave the courtroom.