Johnny Depp repeatedly hit Amber Heard in the face during an argument at the couple’s penthouse in March 2015, Heard’s sister told a jury on Wednesday.
The sister, Whitney Henriquez, was called to the stand to corroborate Heard’s allegations that Depp repeatedly assaulted her over the course of their four-year relationship. Heard is defending herself from a defamation suit brought by Depp in Fairfax, Virginia.
Henriquez described witnessing a fight in which Depp and Heard were screaming obscenities at each other. Depp ran upstairs toward a mezzanine and hit Henriquez in the back, she said, and then Heard smacked him, saying “Don’t hit my f—ing sister.” Depp’s security guard then ran up the stairs.
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“Johnny had already grabbed Amber by the hair with one hand and was whacking her repeatedly in the face with the other, as I was standing there,” Henriquez said.
The security guard separated the couple, and Henriquez took Heard to her apartment and locked the door. Outside, she said she could hear Depp screaming “I f—ing hate you! I f—ing hate you both! You f—ing c–ts! You f—ing whores!”
Henriquez previously testified about the fight – known in the Depp-Heard litigation as “the staircase incident” – during the 2020 defamation trial in the U.K. involving the couple. In that case, the judge found that Depp did assault Heard on that occasion, as well as on numerous others.
Depp also testified about the incident in the Virginia trial on April 20. In his account, he recalled taking a “roundhouse punch” from Heard. Jurors were shown a picture of his bruised face. Depp did not mention striking Heard or her sister. Travis McGivern, the security guard, gave testimony that generally lined up with Depp’s version of events.
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Heard, meanwhile, recalled in her testimony that she had swung at Depp to protect her sister and that Depp had held her by the back of her head and hit her repeatedly in the face.
Henriquez testified that the next morning, she and Heard discovered that Heard’s closet had been trashed and her clothing racks were overturned on the stairs. She also said she found a non-disclosure agreement that had been left for her on the kitchen table. She said she never signed it.
Henriquez said that she witnessed a general decline in Heard’s health and well-being over the four years of her relationship with Depp. She said that Depp could be bright and bubbly when sober, but would become angry and abusive whenever he was using drugs or alcohol.
“When he was drinking he would get very angry,” she said. “He would say really nasty, unkind things, usually about Amber, sometimes about me.”
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She remembered that during a party in London, Depp became angry and threw a steak knife at his assistant, missing him. She also remembered an incident – which Heard had also described – when Depp held a teacup Yorkie out the window of a moving car while drunk. She said Depp also made a joke about putting the dog in the microwave.
Earlier in the day, jurors were shown videotaped depositions of Raquel Pennington and Joshua Drew, a couple who were friends with Heard and lived for a time in an adjacent apartment. Pennington took a number of photos showing bruises on Heard’s face and said she was scared on her friend’s behalf.
“She didn’t have a lot of self-preservation,” Pennington said.
“I was worried for her safety – that he might accidentally do something that was worse than what he ever intended.”
Pennington said she doesn’t really consider herself a current friend of Heard, and that the two grew apart in the last year.
Depp is suing Heard for libel 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. The trial is now in its fifth week.
Depp says he never struck Heard and that he was the victim of abuse inflicted by Heard.
The December 2015 fight is one of several that were disputed. While jurors have seen the photos taken by Pennington documenting the injuries, they have also seen video of Heard’s appearance on a late-night talk show the next day in which those injuries aren’t visible.
Heard has said the injuries were just covered by makeup.
Pennington’s testimony comes after Heard wrapped up her time on the witness stand, including two gruelling days of cross-examination in which Depp’s lawyers questioned Heard about the truthfulness of her allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
Pennington’s testimony provides corroborating evidence to several of the alleged assaults.
In addition to the December 2015 incident, Pennington said she saw cuts on Heard’s feet when she returned from a trip to Australia in March 2015. Heard testified that Depp sexually assaulted Heard with a liquor bottle on that trip and that she cut her feet on broken glass from the attack.
And Pennington, who lived for a time in a suite of penthouses along with Depp and Heard, said she was the first person to see Heard during a final fight between the couple in May 2016 that precipitated the couple’s divorce.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website. In an emergency, call 000.
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