Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard: Everything We Learned During the First Week of Trial

Jhe libel trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is taking place in Fairfax, Virginia.

Depp sued Heard, his ex-wife, for alleged defamation over an op-ed she wrote in 2018 in The Washington Post, in which she describes herself as “a public figure representing domestic violence”. Heard counterattacked her ex-husband, accusing him of allegedly orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his own lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment”.

Depp sought $50 million in damages; Heard asked for $100 million and immunity from Depp’s claims. The trial is expected to last six weeks in total.

Proceedings began Monday, April 11 at the Fairfax County Courthouse with jury selection. Seven jurors have been chosen, along with four alternates who are there to step in if one or more of the original jurors has to give up. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday saw the first witnesses take the stand, either in person or via video testimony. Witnesses included Depp and Heard’s former marriage counselor, Depp’s sister, some of his friends and Heard’s former assistant.

Shocking texts

The evidence presented so far includes texts allegedly sent by Depp about Heard, which include offensive language.

On Wednesday, April 13, Depp’s longtime friend Isaac Baruch was questioned by Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, “Do you remember Mr. Depp ever telling you that he hoped the corpse in Amber Heard’s decomposition decomposes in the f*****g trunk of a Honda Civic?

Baruch pointed to a monitor on which the message was displayed and said, “Yeah. Well, I say yes – I see it here, so obviously, yes, it’s been said. It was written.”

Bredehoft then asked him if Depp called Heard a “c**t” via text message.

“Well, it’s written there, so yeah, I could see that,” Baruch said, also reading from a screen in front of him. Disputing Bredehoft’s specific characterization of Depp’s words, he added: “That’s not what he’s saying – he’s saying, ‘That c**t ruined such a cool life we’ve had for a while. “”

The following day, Thursday April 14, a video deposition of Amber Heard’s former assistant, Kate James, was played in the courtroom as testimony.

James was asked about a text allegedly sent by Depp to James in August 2016, reading, according to the transcript presented as evidence: ‘Thank you, darling…I’m disgusted that I ever f*****’ touched scum… Back on Tuesday!!! And then… Run!!! I’ll hit you when I get back, doll… Come get a stain of purple and we’ll fix her flabby, nice, good ass!!! I love…J.

It was suggested during interrogation that “a spot of purple” was a way of referring to red wine.

When asked if James understood the text to refer to Heard, James initially said it was not for her to speculate.

She was then asked about previous testimony she gave during the 2020 trial between Depp and The sun in the UK, during which he was asked if the text was about Heard. On that occasion, she replied, according to a transcript read into evidence in Virginia: “Yes. Yes.”

In her final testimony, which was shared as a video recording on Thursday, James said on that occasion that she had “just tried to be nice in court, having no idea what was going on”.

When asked if the answer she gave in the UK was truthful or if she just agreed, James replied: “Just to agree.”

“Mutual Abuse”

A video deposition from Heard and Depp’s former marriage counselor, Dr. Laurel Anderson, was released Thursday, April 14. She discussed her past sessions with the couple.

When asked if Heard had ever reported physical abuse to him from Depp, Dr. Anderson said yes. When asked if she had seen any pictures, she replied that she had but did not remember when. When asked if there had been “abuse by Mr. Depp towards Amber,” she replied, “Yeah, you’re right.”

“He had been well controlled for, I don’t know – 20, 30 years, and both of them were abused in their homes, but I thought he had been well controlled for decades,” he said. she adds. “And then with Ms Heard it was triggered and they engaged in what I considered to be mutual abuse.”

Sexual assault allegations

During opening arguments on Tuesday, April 12, Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, alleged that Depp sexually assaulted Heard with a bottle of alcohol on one occasion.

Depp shook his head in court as Bredehoft recounted the alleged incident. His lawyer Camille Vasquez disputed the sexual assault allegation in court. A spokesperson called the allegations “fictitious” in a statement to The Independent.

Depp’s friend expelled as witness

Gina Deuters, who is married to a member of Depp’s staff and is herself a close friend of the actor, testified in person Thursday, April 14.

She answered questions about Depp’s drug and alcohol use, telling the court that she had seen him occasionally use weed and cocaine, and that she had seen him drink alcohol. Deuters testified that she never saw Depp being violent or angry after using substances or drinking alcohol.

At some point during his testimony, Heard’s legal team requested permission to approach Judge Penney Azcarate. The judge conferred with the attorneys, then sent the jury for a brief recess.

Judge Azcarate then asked Deuters: “Did you watch the trial last week?

Deuters replied, “I’ve seen snippets of it online, yes.”

The judge then confirmed that Deuters had watched excerpts of testimony, after which she told Deuters that she was excused.

Deuters then had to leave the court, and Judge Azcarate said she would ask the jury to strike Deuters’ testimony.

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