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After 6 Weeks, Jury Hears Closing Arguments in Depp-Heard Defamation Trial

Closing arguments in the high-profile defamation battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have begun after six weeks of trial in Virginia.

Mr Depp, 58, sued his ex-wife for $50m (£40m) for an article she wrote in which she claims to be an abuse victim. Ms Heard, 36, counter-sued for $100m.

Mr Depp’s lawyer asked jurors to “hold Ms Heard accountable for her ‘lies'”.

Ms Heard’s team, in turn, said it was Mr Depp who is a bully and abuser, not to be trusted.

Benjamin Rottenborn, a lawyer for Ms Heard, reminded jurors of explicit text messages between Mr Depp and his friends, telling them he wanted to visit harm upon his ex-wife.

“This is a window into the heart and mind of America’s favourite pirate,” Mr Rottenborn said. “This is the real Johnny Depp.”

Mr Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez, in contrast, called Ms Heard’s allegations of abuse “wild, over the top and implausible”.

“There is an abuser in this courtroom, but it is not Mr Depp,” Ms Vasquez said, replaying an audio recording in which the actress admits to hitting her then-husband.

“Mr Depp experienced persistent verbal, physical and emotional abuse by Ms Heard,” she said.

Friday’s arguments echoed much of the past six weeks of trial, where both sides presented warring accounts of the former couple’s five-year relationship.

Johnny Depp arrived for closing arguments on Friday, May 27, 2022

Ms Heard and her lawyers told the court of an erratic and cruel Mr Depp, prone to drug and alcohol binges and violent behaviour.

Taking the stand on Thursday, Ms Heard became emotional as she told jurors of the “harassment, the humiliation, the campaign against me that’s echoed every single day on social media and now in front of cameras, in this room”.

Mr Depp offered a starkly different picture, alleging that Ms Heard was a volatile spouse who abused and demeaned him. On the stand, he told jurors his ex-wife had a “need” for conflict and violence and caused him bodily injury by severing the tip of one of his fingers.

The case stems from a 2018 op-ed written by Ms Heard, in which she described her experience as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”.

“I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she wrote. “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

On Friday, Ms Vasquez said the article amounted to a lie which had tarnished Mr Depp’s reputation – though the piece did not directly name him.

Ms Heard’s lawyer, Mr Rottenborn, asked the jury to focus on Ms Heard’s words in the story when making their decision.

The case is “not about who’s the better spouse,” he said. “It’s not about whether you think Ms Heard may have been abusive to Mr Depp”.

Actor Amber Heard stands with her attorney attorney Elaine Bredehoft in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Monday, May 27, 2022. Actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool)

“If you think they were both abusive to each other… then Amber wins,” he said. “If Amber was abused even one time, then she wins”.

Mr Depp arrived Friday morning greeted by hundreds of screaming fans outside, as had happened most days of the trial.

The celebrity case – broadcast live every day – garnered intense public interest as both actors lobbed serious accusations of emotional, physical and verbal abuse at the other.

The jury of seven must come to an unanimous decision for a verdict following the closing arguments.

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