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Johnny Depp Cross Examined By Amber Heard's Lawyers At Libel, Defamation Trial

Lawyers for Amber Heard focused on Johnny Depp's drug and alcohol use, citing his own texts to friends and his now-ex-wife to bolster their allegations that he was too inebriated to remember whether he committed domestic assault.

By The Associated Press
Johnny Depp

Attorneys for actor Amber Heard sought to undermine Johnny Depp’s libel lawsuit against her Thursday by spending hours in court focused on the actor's drinking, drug use and texts he sent to friends — including one about wanting to kill and defile his then-wife.

Heard's lawyers referenced Depp’s history of trashing hotel rooms and his smashing of a bathroom sconce during an argument with Heard. Depp is also facing a lawsuit filed by a member of a film crew who alleges he was assaulted in 2018.

Depp’s lawsuit against Heard alleges that she falsely portrayed him as a domestic abuser and ruined his lucrative acting career. But Heard's attorneys argue that Depp did indeed abuse Heard, both physically and sexually, and claim he can’t deny it because he was often drunk and high to the point of blacking out.

Depp's text messages only bolster his ex-wife's defense, her lawyers said.

“I, of course, pounded and displayed ugly colors to Amber on a recent journey," Depp said in a text message to a friend, the actor Paul Bettany, in July 2013, which was shown to jurors.

“I am an insane person and not so fair headed after too much of the drink,” Depp continued.

Heard lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn focused on another exchange that year between Depp and Bettany in which Depp wrote: “Let’s burn Amber!!!”

Bettany responded: “Having thought it through I don’t think we should burn Amber.”

Depp texted: “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will (expletive) her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”

Depp has previously apologized to the jury for the vulgar language in the texts and said that "in the heat of the pain I was feeling, I went to dark places.” He made the same apology Thursday.

Rottenborn also showed the jury one of Depp’s texts to Bettany in 2014 in which he referenced whiskey, pills and cocaine.

The texts were written during a period in which Depp said he had stopped drinking. And they were sent around the time of a private flight from Boston to Los Angeles, during which Heard said Depp assaulted her while he was blackout drunk.

Rottenborn presented texts that Depp sent to Bettany that said he drank “all night before I picked Amber up to fly to LA this past Sunday … Ugly, mate … No food for days … Powders … Half a bottle of Whiskey, a thousand red bull and vodkas, pills, 2 bottles of Champers on plane …”

Depp had previously testified that he took two oxycodone pills — an opiate to which he admits he was addicted at the time — and locked himself in the plane bathroom and fell asleep to avoid her badgering. He also disputes that he was drunk on the flight, saying he drank only a glass of Champagne as he boarded the plane.

But Rottenborn also showed the jury Depp’s expressions of contrition following the flight.

“Once again I find myself in a place of shame and regret,” Depp wrote to Heard. “Of course, I am sorry. I really don’t know why, or what happened. But I will never do it again … My illness somehow crept up and grabbed me … I must get better. And I will. For us both. Starting today. I love you. Again, I am so sorry. So sorry.”

The jury also saw a written apology from Depp to Heard's father in which the actor said he “(messed) up and went too far” in a fight with Heard. But Depp noted on the stand that the message did not say the fight was a physical.

Multiple audio recordings of the couple's conversations were played in court. In one, Heard told Depp he vomited in his sleep. In another discussion, it sounds as if Depp said he had head-butted Heard.

“I was using the words that Ms. Heard was using,” Depp countered. “But there was not an intentional head-butt. And if you want to have a peaceful conversation with Ms. Heard, you might have to placate just a little bit.”

Depp has been on the stand in Fairfax County Circuit Court since Tuesday afternoon. He previously called the accusations of drug addiction “grossly embellished,” though he acknowledged taking many drugs.

The actor also spent much of his previous testimony describing the couple's volatile relationship and denying that he ever abused Heard. Depp said that Heard abused drugs and often violently attacked him.

Depp has argued that his movie career suffered after she wrote a 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post, which prompted his libel lawsuit against Heard.

Heard never mentioned Depp by name in the article, but Depp’s lawyers said it was a clear reference to accusations Heard made when she sought a 2016 restraining order against him.

Depp said the accusations and the article contributed to an unfairly ruined reputation that made him a Hollywood outcast and cost him his role in the lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise.

When cross-examination began Wednesday, Rottenborn pointed to evidence that Disney made that decision months before the article’s publication. Her attorneys have said that Depp’s damaged reputation was due to his own bad behavior.

Rottenborn's cross-examination of Depp lasted all of Thursday and is scheduled to continue Monday.

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