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Heard’s sister says she witnessed physical fight with Depp

Testimony continues in fifth week of defamation trial between film stars and former spouses Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Amber Heard listens as her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft questions her sister Whitney Henriquez in a courtroom May 18 at the Fairfax County Courthouse. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool/AP)
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Whitney Henriquez, Amber Heard’s younger sister, told jurors in Fairfax County Circuit Court on Wednesday that she witnessed a physical altercation between Heard and ex-husband Johnny Depp, rebutting Depp’s earlier testimony that he never struck his ex-wife.

The 58-year-old actor is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million for defamation after she published an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse, two years after she filed for divorce and a restraining order. Depp denied all allegations of abuse, and said Heard was physically violent toward him. Heard countersued Depp for $100 million after his attorney called her allegations a hoax.

Henriquez, 34, echoed what other witnesses have said about Depp and Heard’s relationship: It started out very loving and kind, and began to deteriorate about a year in. Henriquez said Depp’s behavior changed when he started drinking and using drugs. She told the jury that Heard’s personality also started to change as the relationship progressed, comparing it to a “slow-motion gunshot.” Henriquez said Heard eventually became less gregarious, stopped sleeping and looked emaciated.

Henriquez said she and Depp were once close — and used to drink and do cocaine together at times — but eventually the actor started to assert more control over Heard, trying to dictate her career choices and alienating her from her network of friends. “It was hard to watch,” Henriquez said.

Part of the testimony focused on the night of March 23, 2015, when Henriquez said Heard came into her room (she lived next door to the couple in an apartment paid for by Depp) and said that Depp was cheating on her. Henriquez went to their penthouse and found Debbie Lloyd, Depp’s personal nurse, and Travis McGivern, one of his security guards. Henriquez said Depp first denied an affair and then said that he was cheating on Heard, but it was Heard’s fault.

Henriquez said the couple started shouting “horrible things” at each other. At one point, she, Heard and Lloyd were on a mezzanine area that overlooked the penthouse’s lower level. She said Depp threw a Red Bull can at the back of Lloyd, who didn’t react, and that Depp ran up the stairs and hit Henriquez in the back. Heard shouted, “Don’t hit my f---ing sister,” Henriquez recalled, and that Heard then smacked Depp, which prompted McGivern to run up the stairs.

“By that time, Johnny had already grabbed Amber by the hair with one hand and was whacking her repeatedly in the face with the other while I was standing there,” Henriquez said, adding that the security guard pulled them apart while she took Heard back to her penthouse. Henriquez said that as they left, she could hear Depp calling them vulgar names, and that he was “screaming like an animal.” She said she could hear things being smashed, and when she went back to their penthouse the next day, there was broken glass and the place had been “destroyed.”

Elaine Bredehoft, one of Heard’s attorneys, addressed the actress’s countersuit and asked Henriquez how Heard was impacted by Depp’s lawyer’s statements calling her abuse allegations a hoax. “These statements devastated her,” Henriquez said. “They devastated her because they weren’t true.”

On cross-examination, Rebecca Lecaroz, one of Depp’s lawyers, asked Henriquez why she thought it would be a good idea to take cocaine with Depp if she was suspicious that he was hitting her sister, and at one point had even joked to Depp over text message about hitting Heard. Henriquez called the text “unfortunate” joking, and said she wasn’t aware of the situation back then. She also confirmed that her relationship with Heard was occasionally difficult, and that she eventually moved out of the shared penthouse after Depp accused her of selling stories about the couple to the media.

Lecaroz brought up the “staircase incident” and asked Henriquez why she had tried to get the couple to reconcile months later. “I was just trying to help what I thought they both wanted,” Henriquez said. She said she still “loved” Depp as a brother-in-law at that point, and thought he and Heard still wanted to be together.

“You wanted Ms. Heard to stay with Mr. Depp even after you allegedly saw him hit her, right?” Lecaroz asked.

“That’s really oversimplifying something that’s far from simple,” Henriquez said, adding that if Heard wanted to stay with Depp, she was going to try to support her sister, and didn’t feel like it was her place to say otherwise.

Earlier in the day, the jury heard testimony from Raquel Pennington, Heard’s former best friend, though she said they have since grown apart and are no longer friends. Pennington, who also lived in Depp’s penthouses, has come up many times throughout the trial, as she was present on the night of May 21, 2016, when the police were called to the building. That week, Heard filed for divorce and a restraining order.

During Heard’s testimony, she alleged that Depp was intoxicated and threw a phone at her face (he denies this); Pennington said that she recalled hearing yelling outside the apartment. When she entered, she saw Depp yelling at Heard, who asked Pennington for help, so Pennington went over and stood between them and held up her hands and told Depp, “No.” Eventually, his security intervened, and Pennington brought Heard to her penthouse. Josh Drew, Pennington’s ex-husband who also testified and was in the penthouse that night, said that Heard seemed “catatonic,” but when police arrived, she asked Drew to talk to them because she still wanted to protect Depp and didn’t want to file a report.

Pennington was shown multiple photos of Heard after the May 21, 2016, incident, and confirmed they were how she remembered Heard looking that night and the next day: That her cheek was red and swollen, with redness and a bruise around her eye. Both Pennington and Drew said the photos of Heard were not altered in any way; Depp’s attorneys have claimed that she edited the photos of her injuries.

Elizabeth Marz, Heard’s acquaintance who was in the penthouse that same night, said she was “frightened” by Depp’s behavior that evening, and said she ran and hid after he “charged” at her while holding a wine bottle.

Heard’s lawyers also called on Melanie Inglessis, Heard’s makeup artist, who testified to hiding the actress’s bruises and cut lip with makeup for an appearance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” in December 2015 — a day after Heard said that Depp head-butted her. Inglessis confirmed to Depp’s attorney that she did not witness any physical abuse from Depp, and that she only knows what Heard and her friends told her.

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