Amber Heard made an emotional return to the stand as Johnny Depp’s libel trial against her entered its final stretch, reminding jurors she is “a human being” and saying: “I just want Johnny to leave me alone.”
In her second round of direct evidence in the high-profile case on Thursday, the actress was tearful as she also told the court she has not lied about anything she has claimed about Depp.
After six weeks of numerous testimonies from friends, colleagues, medical experts and industry workers, Heard was the final witness of the trial. Following her testimony, jurors were sent home early, ready to hear the closing arguments and begin their deliberations on Friday.
During her time on the stand, the Aquaman star said she had received “thousands” of death threats since proceedings began and the process had been “agonising, painful and humiliating”.
Depp is suing Heard over a 2018 article she wrote in The Washington Post, which his lawyers say falsely implies he physically and sexually abused her while they were together. He has strenuously denied all accusations and said she was the violent one in their relationship, not him.
After being asked about the effect of the trial on her, she said: “I am harassed, humiliated, threatened, every single day.
“Even just coming into this courtroom, sitting here in front of the world having the worst parts of my life, things that I have lived through, used to humiliate me.
“People want to kill me, they tell me so… they want to put my baby in the microwave, and they tell me that.”
Heard said she has to “relive the trauma” of Depp’s alleged abuse “every single day” and that her friends and intimate partners have to live with “unspoken rules” about how to act around her as she has panic attacks.
The actress said she has to live with campaigns about her on social media, and through the trial had faced “humiliation” on camera in the courtroom.
In an apparent reference to Depp, Heard continued: “I’m not sitting in this courtroom snickering, I’m not sitting in this courtroom laughing. I’m not smiling and making snide jokes. I’m not. This is horrible. This is painful and this is humiliating for any human being to go through.
“And perhaps it’s easy to forget that – I am a human being. And even though Johnny promised that I deserve this and promised he’d do this, I don’t deserve this. I want to move on.”
‘I’m not trying to present myself as a saint’
Heard told the court she had learned to use what she has been through to help others.
“I’m not a saint, I’m not trying to present myself as one, as you all know, but I selfishly found relief in… being able to advocate for others,” she said.
Heard said she receives death threats “regularly, if not daily”. Thousands, she said, since the trial has started, and people “mocking her testimony”.
Crying, she said: “I just want Johnny to leave me alone. I just want him to leave me alone.”
Heard denies tipping off TMZ – and addresses Kate Moss’s testimony
Asked what she hopes to reclaim “after this is over”, the actress told the court: “Protecting the secret I did for as long as I did has taken enough of my voice. Johnny has taken enough of my voice. I have the right to tell my story… I hope to get my voice back.”
Heard also denied tipping off US entertainment site TMZ about her filing for a restraining order against Depp following their break-up in May 2016, as well as other stories, and was also asked about her testimony on Depp’s former girlfriend, supermodel Kate Moss.
She had previously admitted punching Depp on one occasion, saying it was because she had heard a rumour he had pushed Moss down some stairs when they dated in the 1990s, and believed he was about to do the same to her sister.
On Wednesday, the notoriously private Moss appeared in court via video-link to say Depp never pushed her down any stairs or was violent, but there was one incident when she fell.
When it was put to Heard that she made the allegation about the Moss rumour as she never expected the model to testify, the actress said she had no expectation either way. “It didn’t matter… it doesn’t change what I believed at the time when we were on the stairs and I thought [Depp] was going to kill my sister.”
Heard said “a lot of people have come out of the woodwork to be part of the Johnny Depp show” as she underwent cross-examination from the actor’s legal team, and was accused of calling previous witnesses “liars”.
Judge issues warning
Judge Penney Azcarate also warned people in the public gallery not to make comments about her testimony, and said the court would be cleared if interruptions continued.
In his own second round of questioning on Tuesday, Depp once again denied the “outlandish, outrageous” claims of abuse brought by Ms Heard and said he had “spoken up for what I have been carrying on my back reluctantly for six years”.
Other witnesses to give evidence on Thursday were clinical and forensic psychologist Dr Dawn Hughes, who also appeared for a second time – having previously testified that Heard suffers from PTSD as a result of abuse – and computer forensics expert Julian Ackert.
Mr Ackert gave rebuttal evidence against testimony yesterday that photos of Heard with injuries had been through editing software.
Dr Richard Gilbert, a hand surgeon, also testified as an expert witness on Depp’s severed finger, an injury he suffered during his and Heard’s now infamous trip to Australia in 2015. He told the court that after analysing X-rays and medical records, he believes Depp’s version of events – that Heard threw a vodka bottle at him, which smashed and caused the wound – is the likely true story.
Depp v Heard – the background
The former couple started dating after meeting on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary, and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. They split up in May 2016, with Heard filing for a restraining order.
Depp is suing Heard for $50m (£38.2m) in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia, over the 2018 first-person article in which she refers to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.
Heard’s column does not mention Depp by name, but he argues it is an example of “defamation by implication” because parts of the piece clearly refer to allegations of abuse she made in 2016.
Heard has issued a counterclaim for $100m (£76.4m).
Closing arguments will take place on Friday before the jury is sent out to deliberate.