Amber Heard’s sister has testified that she found herself in the middle of fights – literally and figuratively – between Heard and Johnny Depp during their troubled relationship.
Whitney Heard Henriquez is the first witness to testify at the five-week civil trial to say she personally witnessed Depp hitting Heard. Depp has testified he never struck the Aquaman actor.
Ms Henriquez testified the fight occurred in March 2015 – a month after Depp and Heard’s wedding – when Heard found evidence the Pirates of the Caribbean star had already had an extramarital affair.
Ms Henriquez recounted that an inebriated Depp blamed Heard for forcing him into the extramarital encounter.
At one point, she said, she was caught between Depp and Heard as he charged up a staircase to confront Heard. Ms Henriquez said she was struck in the back, and Heard became enraged and “landed one” on Depp, with Ms Henriquez stuck between the two.
One of Depp’s bodyguards broke up the fight but “by that time Johnny had already grabbed Amber by the hair with one hand and was whacking her repeatedly in the face with the other”, Ms Henriquez said.
It was the only time, Ms Henriquez said, that she personally witnessed an assault. But she said she saw the aftermath of other fights, including bruises on Heard.
She said she had the nickname “marriage counsellor” for her frequent efforts to mediate arguments between Heard and Depp.
“Clearly not very well,” she said of her mediation efforts.
But she acknowledged on cross-examination that she sided with Depp at times in their disputes, and said she worked to keep the couple together.
“If my sister said that she still wanted to be with Johnny and if I could help with that in any way I was going to support her. I was going to be there for her,” she said.
Depp is suing Heard for libel in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court over a 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.
Also on Wednesday, a friend of Heard testified she saw the bruises and cuts left in the aftermath of multiple incidents of abuse inflicted by Depp.
In a recorded deposition played for jurors, Raquel Pennington said she never personally witnessed Depp strike Heard. But she said she saw the injuries, and she took photos of Heard’s face in December 2015 after a fight in which Heard says Depp head-butted her and perhaps broke her nose.
The photo shows a swollen nose, a cut lip, and two black eyes.
Heard “often had to cover bruises and injuries on her face” with make-up, Ms Pennington said.
Ms Pennington also said she saw cuts on Heard’s feet when she returned from a trip to Australia in March 2015.
Heard testified Depp sexually assaulted Heard with a liquor bottle and that she cut her feet on the broken glass.
The fight are among several disputed incidents. 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 are not visible.
Heard has said the injuries were just covered by make-up.
Ms Pennington’s testimony came after Heard finished her time on the witness stand, including two days of cross-examination in which Depp’s lawyers questioned Heard about the truthfulness of her allegations of physical and sexual abuse.