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Heard returns to stand as case wraps; closing arguments begin Friday

Actress Amber Heard returned to the stand May 26 to detail her relationship with ex-husband Johnny Depp for the last time before the trial's closing arguments. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock/The Washington Post)

Amber Heard returned to the stand Thursday morning in the final hours of testimony in the six-week defamation trial against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. The judge sent the jury home at noon after the actress’s testimony and said closing arguments will take place Friday morning.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million, alleging defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post, in which she referred to herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse. Heard countersued Depp (who denies all abuse allegations) for $100 million, after his lawyer Adam Waldman told the media that her allegations were a hoax.

One of Heard’s attorneys, Ben Rottenborn, asked the actress how she has suffered as a result of the “Depp-Waldman statements.” Depp’s side has argued that Waldman’s actions are separate from his client.

Heard started crying as she responded. “I am harassed, humiliated, threatened, every single day. Even just walking into this courtroom, sitting here in front of the world, having the worst parts of my life — things I’ve lived through — used to humiliate me,” she said. “People want to kill me. And they tell me so, every day. People want to put my baby in the microwave. They tell me that.”

“This is horrible, this is painful,” she added. “This is humiliating for any human being to go through. And perhaps it’s easy for you to forget I’m a human being.”

She noted the social media campaigns against her and the mockery she has received while testifying about her assault, as well as the overwhelming support for Depp in the courtroom. Heard added that Depp previously threatened her and promised that if she ever left him, she would think about him every day for the rest of her life; she said she just wants him to leave her alone. Rottenborn asked what she hopes to reclaim when the trial is over.

“Johnny has taken enough of my voice,” she said. “I have the right to tell my story. I have the right to say what happened to me. I have the right to my voice and my name.”

On cross-examination, one of Depp’s lawyers, Camille Vasquez, continued to paint Heard as a liar. “You just testified that this case has been very hard for you,” she said. “Your lies have been exposed to the world, right?”

“I haven’t lied about anything,” Heard responded.

Vasquez pointed out that during a much-discussed vacation to the Hicksville Trailer Palace in Southern California, Heard said that Depp threatened a woman who cozied up to Heard and that the actor trashed their trailer. Vasquez noted that witnesses — including Heard’s former best friend and a manager from Hicksville — disputed Heard’s version of events; the actress said that they didn’t see the same things she did, and in particular, the manager had no idea what happened behind closed doors.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say a lot of things to be involved in the Johnny Depp show,” Heard said.

There was also a back and forth about Morgan Tremaine, a former TMZ employee who testified Wednesday that in May 2016, when Heard filed for divorce and a temporary restraining order against Depp, Tremaine dispatched a camera crew to a Los Angeles courthouse to capture photos of Heard “leaving the courthouse and [of] an alleged bruise on the right side of her face.” Tremaine strongly suggested that Heard sent the website a video clip of Depp slamming cabinets and pouring a large glass of wine, which was later published.

Heard denied knowing anything about paparazzi at the courthouse and said that although she took the video, she did not send it to TMZ to make Depp look bad during their divorce proceedings, calling the accusation “absurd.”

When Vasquez brought up more opposing testimony from witnesses and asked Heard if they were all liars — including Kate Moss, who testified Wednesday that Depp did not push her down the stairs as Heard had alluded to — Heard said that given that Depp is a powerful man, she’s not surprised.

“That’s why I wrote the op-ed,” Heard said. “That phenomenon — how many people come out in support of him.”

Earlier in the day, Depp’s side wrapped up with a final rebuttal witness, New York orthopedic surgeon Richard Gilbert. The case returned once more to Depp’s severed finger from 2015; Depp says that it was cut off when Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him, which she denies.

Gilbert said he believed a vodka bottle could have done the damage, given that the injury looked like a “sharp laceration.” He disagreed partially with earlier testimony from Heard’s witness, who didn’t think a vodka bottle could be the culprit, in part because there were no other cuts on Depp’s hand — but Gilbert said that wouldn’t be uncommon with thicker glass.

Before Heard took the stand, the actress’s defense called two witnesses for rebuttal: Julian Ackert, a computer forensics who rebutted earlier testimony that photos of Heard’s injuries were probably run through an editing program. And psychologist Dawn Hughes returned to dispute another psychologist who called her methods into question when she diagnosed Heard with post-traumatic stress disorder. Hughes said that Heard did not exaggerate her symptoms on the PTSD test, and while her score was in the “moderate” range, that’s still enough for “functional impairment.”

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