Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial: What to expect when Heard takes the stand

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Amber Heard is expected to take the stand next week as the first witness for her defence in the blockbuster defamation trial instigated by her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

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The Aquaman actor could begin her testimony in the Fairfax County Courthouse, close to Washington DC, as soon as Monday, once Depp’s team finish their case, website Deadline reports.

Representatives for Heard have not yet made any comment about the actor’s testimony or its schedule.

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An insider told Deadline: “It’s hard to see how Amber won’t prove to be a highly effective weapon against Depp in her own advocacy.”

“Regardless of how they have tried to characterise her, she has been nothing but well composed and pretty conservative in court without having said a word.”

Global Tech News Daily

Depp is suing Heard for defamation over a column she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018. In the article, she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Heard, 36, never named Depp, 59, but he claims she clearly implied he was a domestic abuser and is seeking $50 million (NZ$76m) in damages. Heard countersued, asking for $100 million (NZ$153m) and claiming she suffered “rampant physical violence and abuse” at his hands.

On Monday, Depp concluded a gruelling four days on the witness stand, calmly telling jurors he filed his libel lawsuit against his ex-wife because it was his best chance to reclaim his reputation. During his testimony, Depp accused Heard of everything from intentionally defecating in his bed, to severing his finger and other physical abuse.

His witnesses, including his business adviser and his security guard testified that Heard was in fact the aggressor who “wore the pants” in arguments and instigated physical altercations.

On Tuesday, an expert witness testifying for Depp accused Heard of “grossly exaggerating” symptoms of psychological distress and diagnosed the actor with two personality disorders.

Actor Amber Heard speaks to her attorney during a hearing in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia. Photo / AP

Psychologist Dr Shannon Curry told the court her in-person evaluation of Heard found she had “borderline personality disorder (BPD) and histrionic personality disorder”.

In court papers, Heard has accused Depp of abusing her throughout their relationship, alleging that he slapped her, kicked her, headbutted her and tore clumps of hair out of her scalp.

Heard and Depp, who met in 2009 and were married from 2015 to 2016, have accused the other of physical violence during their relationship. They have both denied the claims.

The key witnesses yet to testify

The trial has been running for three weeks and is set to conclude on May 19. Judge Penny Azcarate has a prescheduled conference from May 9 to 12 when the trial will pause for a week.

The witness list originally included Elon Musk and James Franco. However, Musk’s lawyer this week confirmed that the Tesla chief executive – who dated Heard for a year after her relationship with Depp ended in 2016 – would not take the stand.

A source with knowledge of the trial confirmed to the New York Post that Franco will also no longer be testifying. His name was brought up in the previous legal case that Depp brought against UK newspaper The Sun, over an article that called the actor a “wife beater” based on Heard’s allegations of abuse.

Heard had testified in that case that Franco, 44, asked her “what the f***” happened to her face after Depp allegedly threw a phone at her.

There are several other key witnesses still listed who are set to take the stand after Heard.

British actor Paul Bettany, a friend of Depp’s, will reportedly testify via video link.

Communications between Bettany and Depp have already been admitted into evidence.

During the first week of the trial, text messages between the two were shown in court, including one where Depp wrote about drowning and burning then-girlfriend Heard.

“Let’s burn Amber,” read one text sent by Depp to Bettany on June 11, 2013.

“Let’s drown her before we burn her. I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead”.

Depp claimed the texts were a reference to the film “Monty Python”.

American actor Ellen Barkin previously testified at Depp’s libel claim against The Sun, which he lost, that the actor once threw a wine bottle at her head while they were dating in the 1990s, Fox News reported.

Depp attempted to discredit her at the time, saying she held a “grudge” against him after he ended a casual relationship between the two.

“Ms Barkin and I had been friends for a number of years. A couple of years later [after her divorce], Ellen and I were hanging, just spending time together, a relationship,” Depp said in court at the time.

“A sexual element began with Ms Barkin, which lasted for months on and off, really because she was making the film, I was making at the time, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’ and I suppose her desires were … she wanted more than a relationship, she wanted a proper relationship with me and I did not want that.

“I didn’t feel the same about her as she did me, and I suppose from that moment on she became very, very angry, and, since then, I have not spoken to Ms Barkin,” he said.

How to get help

If you’re in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people. Scream for help so your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you. Don’t stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:
Women’s Refuge: Crisis line – 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 (available 24/7)
Shine: Helpline – 0508 744 633 (available 24/7)
It’s Not Ok: Family violence information line – 0800 456 450
Shakti: Specialist services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and children. Crisis line – 0800 742 584 (available 24/7)
Ministry of Justice: For information on family violence
Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services
White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men’s violence towards women

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