'Death threats' and 'humiliation' bring Depp-Heard trial to close

Closing arguments due tomorrow before the case is handed to the jury

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A weeping Amber Heard said on Thursday that she had received death threats all throughout the "painful" defamation trial brought by her former husband, actor Johnny Depp.

"I am harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day," the Aquaman star said on the final day of witness testimony in the sometimes excruciating trial, which is in its sixth and final week.

"I receive hundreds of death threats regularly, if not daily, thousands since this trial has started, people mocking my testimony about being assaulted."

Depp filed the $50 million suit against Heard after she wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post in which she called herself “a public figure representing domestic abuse”, although she never named him.

In spite of losing a similar case in the UK, where it is significantly easier to win defamation cases, he chose to file a second case against her.

The trial is being held in Fairfax, Virginia, even though both stars live in Los Angeles, California.

Depp claims he filed there because it is the home base to the newspaper but chose not to sue the publisher, which he did in his former losing effort.

He may have thought he would get an advantage there because of the weaknesses in Virginia’s anti-SLAPP law, which is supposed to protect free speech.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation and 32 states and the District of Columbia have laws against them.

Using the law, Depp’s lawyers made a motion to have Heard’s $100m counter-claim against the actor tossed out.

The counter-suit claims his then-lawyer, Adam Waldman, defamed the actress when he called her abuse allegations “a hoax”.

Judge Penney Azcarate rejected the motion.

Defence witnesses supported Heard’s claims that she has been the target of a years-long hateful social media campaign by millions of fans of the Ed Wood star.

"I just want Johnny to leave me alone,” Heard said for the second time since the trial began.

Earlier in his testimony, Depp admitted to writing in a 2016 text that Heard was "begging for total global humiliation" and "she's gonna get it”.

He said it was written in anger when he learnt she was alleging that he physically abused her.

Depp also texted his friend, actor Paul Bettany, “Let’s burn Amber!!!”

Bettany wrote back: "I'm not sure we should burn Amber. She is delightful company and pleasing on the eye.

"We could, of course, do the English course of action and perform a drowning test. Thoughts? You have a swimming pool."

Depp replied: "Let's drown her before we burn her!"

Then Bettany replied: "My thoughts entirely! Lets be certain before we pronounce her a witch."

Bettany was not called by Heard’s attorneys although the text exchange was read in court.

A parade of the couple's mutual friends testified that Depp could be "loving and generous" but that he could also become "a monster" when intoxicated or under the influence.

Model Kate Moss, a former girlfriend of actor Johnny Depp, is sworn in to testify via video link during Depp's defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard. EPA

"Alcohol would bring out a very ugly side of him”, which Depp acknowledged, and though he said it was “exhausting” to get sober, he had vowed to do so for Heard, testified iO Tillet Wright, a friend of the couple.

“But he resented it — he didn’t want to be,” Wright said.

The only friend to come out for Depp was supermodel Kate Moss, who dated Depp in the 1990s.

Speaking for less than two minutes, Moss dispelled accusations that Depp pushed her down a staircase while on holiday at Jamaica's Golden Eye resort.

"It was raining and I slipped," Moss said by video link.

In his final plea to the jury, Depp said it had been "unimaginably brutal" to listen to the "heinous" and "outlandish" accusations that he could ever be violent.

"No human being is perfect, certainly not, none of us, but I have never in my life committed sexual battery, physical abuse," he said.

Depp said he brought legal action because he needed to address "what I've been carrying on my back, reluctantly, for six years."

The trial began on April 11, with closing arguments scheduled for tomorrow, May 27.

Updated: May 27, 2022, 5:10 AM