Briefing

Catch up on the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial

Closing arguments begin Friday

The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial is nearing its end. Here are the most important pieces of information we've learned so far: 

What has Johnny Depp said?

Depp is suing Heard, his ex-wife, for defamation after she wrote an op-ed about becoming a "public figure representing domestic abuse." He wasn't named in the article. 

Depp testified he has never hit Heard but that she physically abused him throughout their relationship. In one incident, Depp alleged Heard threw a vodka bottle at him, severing his fingertip. He also alleged Heard's abuse allegations derailed his career and caused him to lose work. 

What has Amber Heard said?

Heard testified Depp repeatedly physically abused her, such as by throwing a phone at her face. She also testified Depp sexually assaulted her, including by penetrating her with a liquor bottle. She acknowledged she hit Depp "when he attacked me and my sister." 

The actress is counter-suing Depp, arguing her career was harmed by Depp's attorney calling her allegations a hoax. She told jurors, for example, that she received a reduced role in the Aquaman sequel due to Depp supposedly orchestrating a "smear campaign" against her.

What have Depp's witnesses said?

Travis McGivern, Depp's security guard, said there were "moments of yelling and anger" from both Depp and Heard, and he testified he saw Heard throw a Red Bull can at Depp and punch him in the face. Another Depp security guard, Sean Bett, testified he feared the two would "kill each other," and security guard Starling Jenkins said that after feces was found in Depp's bed, Heard called it a "practical joke gone wrong." Depp's nurse, Debbie Lloyd, also alleged Heard would try to "instigate" Depp.

Isaac Baruch, Depp's friend, testified Heard told him Depp threw a phone at her but that he saw no bruises on her face, and LAPD officers who responded to a 911 call the night Heard alleged Depp hit her with a phone testified they didn't identify injuries on Heard. A doorman, Alejandro Romero, similarly said he didn't see bruising on her days later. But Erin Falati, Heard's former personal nurse, said she saw "bright red blood" on Heard's lip after an alleged argument with Depp. Kate Moss, Depp's ex-girlfriend, denied a rumor he pushed her down the stairs, which Heard had cited.  

Aquaman producer Walter Hamada confirmed Heard was almost recast in the sequel, but due to concerns over her lack of chemistry with co-star Jason Momoa, not because of the Depp situation. Talent agent Christian Carino, though, said he believes Depp lost his role in a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean over Heard's allegations, and agent ​​Jack Whigham said it was "impossible to get him a studio film" after the op-ed. 

Marriage counselor Laurel Anderson testified Depp was violent toward Heard but that they engaged in "mutual abuse," which in some instances Heard "started." Shannon Curry, a psychologist hired by Depp's team, diagnosed Heard with borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder and alleged she exaggerated symptoms of PTSD. Orthopedic surgeon Richard Gilbert also said Depp's finger injury could have been sustained by a vodka bottle being thrown at him, as Depp described.  

What have Heard's witnesses said? 

Heard's former friend iO Tillett Wright testified he called 911 when he overheard her screaming over the phone after Depp allegedly threatened to "peel your f--king hair back." Wright also said Depp told him after their wedding, "I can punch her in the face and nobody can do anything about it."

Heard's sister, Whitney Henriquez, testified Depp hit her in the back and that she witnessed him hit Heard "repeatedly in the face," and Heard's former friend Raquel Pennington said hair was "ripped out" of the actress' head and her face was "red" and "swollen" after an alleged fight with Depp. Heard's former makeup artist Mélanie Inglessis also testified she saw injuries on Heard and helped her cover up bruises, and Depp's former friend Bruce Witkin testified Depp had substance abuse issues and that he saw a bruise on Heard's arm. Actress Ellen Barkin, who dated Depp, alleged he threw a wine bottle in her direction, and she described him as "jealous" and "controlling."

Orthopedic surgeon Richard Moore testified Depp's finger injury wasn't consistent with his story of Heard throwing a vodka bottle at him, while psychiatrist David Spiegel said Depp's behavior is consistent with someone who is "a perpetrator of intimate partner violence."

Heard's team called several other witnesses to make the case Depp's career was damaged by his own actions, not the op-ed. Depp's former agent Tracey Jacobs said he showed up late to set "on virtually every movie" and his behavior made studios reluctant to hire him. Kathryn Arnold, an entertainment industry consultant, argued Heard's op-ed had "very little" impact on Depp's career because "hardly anybody even knew the op-ed existed before he filed suit," and Disney executive Tina Newman said she's unaware of anyone at the studio saying they wouldn't hire him for another Pirates because of the article. But Heard's agent said she lost work because of the legal battle. 

Contradicting the psychologist Depp's team hired, psychologist Dawn Hughes told jurors Heard suffers from PTSD caused by "intimate partner violence by Mr. Depp." 

What evidence has been presented? 

Numerous recordings from Depp and Heard's arguments were presented, during which they're both heard berating each other at different points. On one tape, Depp calls Heard a "fat a--" after she tells him to "put your f--king cigarettes out on someone else," and in another, he's heard saying, "I headbutted you in the f--king forehead." Depp also once seemed to refer to "the day that I chopped my finger off," and in another tape, Heard says she "was hitting" Depp and calls him a "baby" as he says "you start physical fights." 

Jurors also saw photos of both Depp and Heard with apparent bruising on their faces. Many text messages were also presented, including ones where Depp wrote he wanted to see Heard's "rotting corpse" decomposing and said she's "begging for total global humiliation."

What now? 

Closing arguments begin May 27, after which jurors — who must decide whether Heard defamed Depp specifically in her 2018 article — will begin deliberating. 

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