FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Johnny Depp’s lawyers asked a jury Friday “to give Mr. Depp his life back” by finding his ex-wife, Amber Heard, guilty of libel.
Heard “ruined his life by falsely telling the world she was a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of Mr. Depp,” lawyer Camille Vasquez told the jury in closing arguments.
Depp hoped the trial would help restore his image and resurrect his career, though it has turned into a six-week spectacle of a vicious marriage that has left both actors tarred, with broadcast cameras in the courtroom capturing every twist as fans weighed in on social media and lined up overnight for coveted courtroom seats.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.
Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp after his lawyer called her allegations a hoax.
Depp, in his final testimony to the jury, said he filed the suit so he could tell his side of the story - something he said he hasn’t been able to do up until now.
“I have spoken up for what I’ve been carrying on my back, reluctantly, for six years,” Depp testified Wednesday.
Heard, in her final testimony, said she‘s been the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by Depp ever since she filed for divorce, and said she just wants Depp “to leave me alone.”
Depp says he never struck Heard and that she concocted the abuse allegations to gain an advantage in divorce proceedings. He has said he was often physically attacked by Heard.
“There is an abuser in this courtroom, but it is not Mr. Depp,” Vasquez said.
Heard testified about more than a dozen episodes of physical and sexual assault that she said Depp inflicted on her.
Vasquez, in her closing, noted that Heard had to revise her testimony about the first time she said she was struck. Heard said Depp hit her after she inadvertently laughed at one of his tattoos. Heard initially said it happened in 2013 - after a fairy-tale year of romance and love - but later corrected herself to say it happened in 2012, very early in their relationship.
“Now in this courtroom she has suddenly erased an entire year of magic,” Vasquez said.
Jurors have seen multiple photos of Heard with marks and bruises on her face, but some photos show only mild redness, and others show more severe bruising.
Vasquez said evidence that Heard has embellished some of her injuries is proof that all her claims of abuse are unfounded.
“You either believe all of it, or none of it,” she said. “Either she is a victim of ugly, horrible abuse, or she is a woman who is willing to say absolutely anything.”
Each side has two hours to summarize their case in a trial that has stretched on for six weeks. Heard’s lawyers will present their closing arguments later Friday.
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