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Johnny Depp’s lawyers pleaded with jurors to “give him his life back” after it was “ruined” by Amber Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse, as closing arguments finally got under way in the former couple’s high-profile defamation trial on Friday morning.
Mr Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez told the jury that the evidence had shown Ms Heard was the “abuser” and Mr Depp was the “abused” during their tumultuous relationship, saying that both Mr Depp’s “good name” and his “life” are at stake as they reach their verdict.
“There is an abuser in this courtroom but it is not Mr Depp,” she said.
“And there is a victim of domestic abuse in this courtroom but it is not Ms Heard.”
During the couple’s relationship, Ms Vasquez said Mr Depp suffered “persistent verbal, physical and emotional abuse” at the hands of Ms Heard.
Ms Heard then caused Mr Depp the “greatest and cruellest injury of all” after their relationship ended, when she “falsely” accused him of domestic abuse, she told the court.
Ms Vasquez told the court that the closing arguments come exactly six years to the day that Ms Heard “falsely” accused her ex-husband of domestic abuse when she filed for a domestic violence restraining order in 2016.
“On May 27 2016, Ms Heard walked into a courthouse in Los Angeles, California to get a no notice ex-parte restraining order against Mr Depp and in doing so ruined his life by falsely telling the world that she is a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of Mr Depp,” she said.
“Today, on May 27 2022 – exactly six years later – we ask you to give Mr Depp his life back by telling the world that Mr Depp is not the abuser that Ms Heard says he is and hold Ms Heard accountable for her lies.
“What is at stake in this trial is a man’s good name. Even more than that what is at stake in this trial is a man’s life.”
“The life that he lost when he was accused of a heinous crime and the life he could live when he is finally vindicated.”
Ms Vasquez claimed that Ms Heard filed the “false report of domestic abuse” and tipped off the paparazzi.
“The scene was a set up,” she said.
“The photos captured what she wanted them to see: the image of a battered woman,” she said.
In 2018, two years after filing for the restraining order, Ms Heard published an op-ed in The Washington Post where she described herself as a victim of sexual violence.
Ms Vasquez questioned why Ms Heard had “never before accused her ex-husband of heinous crime” and hit out at Ms Heard’s claim that the op-ed isn’t about Mr Depp.
She accused Ms Heard of wanting “to ruin him” and said she wanted to frame “Mr Depp as a villain this time in the full swing of the MeToo movement”.
“She didn’t just want divorce. She wanted to ruin him,” she said.
As part of her closing argument, Ms Vasquez sought to tear holes in Ms Heard’s claims that Mr Depp physically and sexually abused her.
She showed the court several photos of Ms Heard taken in the aftermath of alleged incidents of abuse, which do not appear to show any visible injuries.
Ms Heard testified in the trial that she covered her injuries with make-up.
One of the most explosive incidents at the centre of the trial took place in Australia.
Mr Depp lost the tip of his finger which he claims was severed by Ms Heard hurling a vodka bottle at him.
Ms Heard claims that Mr Depp cut off his own finger and sexually assaulted her with a liquor bottle that day.
In closing arguments, Ms Vasquez told jurors that, while Ms Heard’s allegations “span a story of horror”, Ms Heard did not seek medical treatment and did not take photos of her injuries – but she did take photos of Mr Depp’s writings on a mirror.
The attorney claimed that Mr Depp was the real victim of violence in that incident, pointing to the testimony of a medical witness for his team who supported his version of events.
“There was a monster in that house in Australia but it wasn’t Mr Depp it was Ms Heard,” she said.
“It was Ms Heard who attacked and grievously wounded Mr Depp.”
She told jurors: “You either believe all of it or none of it. Either Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard with a bottle in Australia, or Ms Heard got up on that stand, in front of all of you, and made up that horrific tale of abuse.”
Ms Vasquez listed witnesses who she said did not corroborate Ms Heard’s allegations, saying that the only person who claims she saw Mr Depp physically attack her was Ms Heard’s sister Whitney Henriquez.
Ms Vasquez said that Ms Henriquez’s version of events of the infamous “staircase incident” did not “square up”.
Several audio clips heard during the trial were also played again for the jury.
In one of the clips, Ms Heard is heard telling Mr Depp he is “a baby”.
“This is the real Ms Heard,” Ms Vasquez said of the audio recordings.
Ms Vasquez went on to accuse Ms Heard of not only “profound cruelty” to Mr Depp through her allegations but to “true survivors of domestic abuse”.
She said that her “story” was one that many victims had experienced but that, for Ms Heard, it “was not her story”.
“An act of profound cruelty not just to Mr Depp but to true survivors of domestic abuse,” she said.
“For Ms Heard to hold herself out as a public figure representing domestic abuse, it was false it was defamatory and it caused irreparable harm.”
Attorney Ben Chew doubled down on this assertion in the second part of the closing statements for Mr Depp, saying that “this is MeToo without any MeToo”.
He told the court that Mr Depp supports the MeToo movement but said it is “for true survivors of abuse not Ms Heard”.
“This is the unique and singular MeToo case where there is not a single MeToo,” he said, saying that no other woman has accused Mr Depp of sexual or physical violence.
“No woman ever before Amber Heard ever claimed that Mr Depp raised a hand to her in his 58 years and no other woman since Ms Heard made the false claims... has come forward since,” he said.
Mr Chew pointed to supermodel Kate Moss who testified that a claim that Mr Depp had pushed her down the stairs when they were dating was false.
He told the court that they had met the “real” Mr Depp and Ms Heard.
“You have now come to know the real Amber Heard. Scary,” he said.
Mr Chew detailed Mr Depp’s humble beginnings and how he became a “respected artist and a decent very well-liked man”.
He admitted that the actor is “no saint” and has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse but “owns his flaws”.
Mr Chew went on to detail the damage he said the allegations had caused to Mr Depp and his family.
“Those false allegations have caused more harm than her fists ever did,” he said.
He added: “Because of what she said, Mr Depp will go his grave knowing that no matter what he does, no matter the outcome of this trial, there are people that used to look up to him who now believe he beat a woman.”
Mr Chew concluded the closing statement by urging jurors to free Mr Depp “from the prison he has lived in for the last six years”.
“This case for Mr Depp has never been about money nor is it about punishing Ms Heard,” he said.
“It is about Mr Depp’s reputation, it is about freeing Mr Depp from the prison he has lived in for the last six years.”
He added that it is about showing the actor’s children “that the truth is worth fighting for”.
Ms Vasquez adds that Heard’s story is a constantly moving target and never stays the same.
“Mr Depp owns his mistakes. You saw him doing that on the stand.”
Mr Depp is suing his ex-wife for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she penned for The Washington Post where she described herself as a “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor is not named in the article, which is titled “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
However Mr Depp claims that it falsely implies that he is a domestic abuser – something that he strongly denies – and that it has left him struggling to land roles in Hollywood. He is suing for $50m (£40m).
Ms Heard is countersuing for $100m (£79m), accusing Mr Depp of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment”.
The counterclaim revolves around comments made by one of Mr Depp’s attorneys Adam Waldman to the MailOnline where he called Ms Heard’s accusations “fake”, a “sexual violence hoax” and an “ambush”.
In the rebuttal, Ms Vasquez disputed Ms Heard’s counterclaim that she was defamed by the statements calling it a “fantasy”.
“In reality, Miss Heard has not shown any damage at all because of, or by, Mr Waldman’s statements,” she said.
Instead, Ms Vasquez doubled down on claims that Ms Heard “lied” throughout the case, saying that she has “come too far” and now “can’t back down”.
“She’s lied too many times to too many people,” she said.
She pushed back against the closing arguments from Ms Heard’s legal team where they said that Mr Depp has lost the case if he has not proven he did not abuse her even “just one time”.
“You can’t find that Mr. Depp hit her once. Either he hit her several times, or you can’t count a single word that came out of her mouth,” she said.
She concluded statements for Mr Depp’s team, saying: “I ask you to tell Ms Heard that what she did was wrong.”
Follow live updates of the trial here