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Depp attorney tries to discredit Heard as cross-examination concludes

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Cross-examination of Amber Heard by one of Johnny Depp’s attorneys concluded Tuesday afternoon in Fairfax County in the bitter defamation trial between the film celebrities. Depp attorney Camille Vasquez’s rapid-fire questions sought to discredit Heard’s testimony and continuously categorized her as abusive toward her ex-husband during their tumultuous relationship and marriage.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she published in The Washington Post, which alleged domestic abuse from an unnamed person. He claims the piece has ruined his reputation and his career and contends that he never physically or sexually abused Heard. She countersued him for $100 million after his lawyers said her allegations were false. (The Post is not a defendant in the lawsuit.)

Attorneys for Johnny Depp tried to discredit his ex-wife Amber Heard’s claims of abuse on May 17 by showing the jury a knife she bought for the actor. (Video: Reuters)

Vasquez presented the jury with a knife Heard gave Depp for his birthday engraved with the phrase “till death” in Spanish. “This is the knife you gave to the man who would get drunk and violent with you,” Vasquez said.

“I wasn’t worried he was going to stab me with it,” Heard said.

As she would throughout her cross-examination questions Tuesday, Vasquez then quickly pivoted, bringing up another, unrelated incident. She questioned Heard’s testimony concerning a particularly brutal incident she alleged took place in Australia, in which she claims she was sexually assaulted with a liquor bottle and the tip of Depp’s finger was severed. Depp alleges Heard cut his finger by throwing a vodka bottle at him, while the defense suggests Depp injured himself.

Vasquez focused on the sequence of events, which she suggested were improbable — claiming Depp could not do so much damage with a severed finger. Heard maintained that she didn’t recall the order in which things occurred, saying, “I have never claimed that I can remember the exact sequence of these things. This is a multiday assault that took place over three horrible days.”

Vasquez further sought to discredit Heard’s testimony about the incident in Australia by pointing out “there is not a single medical record” of Heard’s injuries, nor are there any photographs of them.

Vasquez noted that Heard expressed concern for Depp’s substance abuse but continued using drugs and alcohol herself. She questioned whether it was Heard who was jealous, rather than Depp — as the defendant has claimed. She suggested Depp got Heard her role in the movie “Aquaman,” and presented a tape recording in which Heard insulted Depp’s career, calling him “washed-up” and a “joke.” She also presented multiple sets of text messages in which Heard repeatedly asks Depp to answer the phone, as an attempt to portray Heard as jealous. “You were texting him incessantly,” Vasquez said. Heard said she sent them in a desperate attempt to get Depp to stop using drugs.

Vasquez pressed heavily against Heard’s argument that the op-ed she wrote — which lies at the heart of the trial — isn’t about Depp but about what happened to her after she obtained a temporary restraining order against the actor. “I was talking about a bigger issue, actually, than just Johnny,” Heard said.

Heard’s countersuit revolves around several claims made in the press by Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman, who called Heard’s accusations a hoax. She claims the accusations, which she characterized as a “negative smear campaign,” led to the loss of career opportunities.

In response, Vasquez read headlines from articles negatively characterizing Heard that were published before Waldman’s comments.

The cross-examination lasted until about 2:40 p.m., at which point Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, began redirect questioning, in which she challenged a few of Vasquez’s points — such as how Heard got her role in “Aquaman.”

“I worked really hard,” Heard said.

The redirect lasted about 35 minutes, and Vasquez consistently — and successfully — objected to questions from Bredehoft — often so many times in a row that it drew laughter from the courtroom audience, which throughout the trial has been composed of mostly Depp fans.

The court then played the video deposition of artist iO Tillett Wright, a friend of Heard’s who grew close to Depp for a few years. He described the actor as “lovely,” “magical” and “very funny” when he was sober, but “paranoid,” “mean” and “surly” when inebriated.

Though he never witnessed Depp physically assault Heard, Wright said, he heard Depp say things around her, such as “all she’s got is her looks.” He said when Depp was inebriated, he would also “insult his fans” and call them “remoras,” also known as suckerfish. He also recalled Depp telling him that “he just really didn’t like life sober” and that he would “experience great bouts of jealousy in relationships.”

Just after Depp and Heard’s marriage ceremony, Wright said, he congratulated Depp on their nuptials. Depp allegedly responded, “We’re married. Now I can punch her in the face and nobody can do anything about it.”

He also relayed an incident in which he was on the phone with Heard, who told him that Depp was convinced they defecated on his pillow. Wright and Heard began laughing, he said, and Depp grew agitated. Wright heard a smack, “and the phone dropped. And he said to her, ‘You think I hit you? You think I f—ing hit you? What if I peel your f—ing hair back?’ And then I heard the phone drop again, and I heard her scream.”

The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday with testimony from additional witnesses.

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