The defamation trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard entered its fifth and final week of testimony on Monday, with a witness for Heard testifying that Depp could not have lost the tip of his finger during a domestic fight in the way he had recounted.
The serious injury to his middle finger, which occurred during a March 2015 row in Australia between Depp and Heard during their brief marriage, has been one of several key points of dispute in the civil case.
Depp has said at trial he was injured when Heard threw a vodka bottle at him, which smashed.
Heard has said she never saw specifically how the injury occurred, but that it took place on a night when an enraged and intoxicated Depp had sexually assaulted her with a liquor bottle.
Richard Moore, a surgeon, testified on Monday in the court in Fairfax county, Virginia, that Depp’s description was unlikely, in large part because his fingernail remained intact. Moore, who did not treat Depp, said the fingernail was exposed – as Depp described the palm-down placement of his hand – and would have been damaged.
Depp has given different accounts of the injury, at times saying he had done it to himself, had caught it between accordion doors or had lied to protect Heard.
Depp is suing Heard for libel in Fairfax county 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, although it never mentioned his name.
Depp has denied he ever struck Heard and says she was the abuser in the relationship.
Heard has testified about more than a dozen instances of physical abuse she says she suffered at Depp’s hands.
A psychiatrist for Heard later argued on Monday that Depp’s chemical dependencies, narcissism and need for control skewed him toward violence in relationships.
David Spiegel testified that the warning signs of intimate partner violence (IPV) were sometimes instilled in narcissist personalities, displaying poor self-control, rapid mood shifts, being envious and worshipping power and control.
“Threatening, destroying furniture and property, breaking things, writing on walls and mirrors, writing in blood on furniture,” Spiegel testified, could all be indicative of interpersonal violence.
In a bizarre turn in the long-running case, Spiegel said Depp’s “processing speed” was delayed and his statements “disconnected” and cited that he had had his movie lines fed to him through an earpiece when filming.
“I don’t believe that actors are routinely given their entire script through earpieces,” Spiegel said.
“Do you know whether Marlon Brando used an earpiece?” Depp’s attorney asked Spiegel.
“Isn’t he dead?” Spiegel responded. “The answer is no; he does not use one now.”
Depp, Spiegel said, had failed to remember three words when asked to repeat them five minutes later. The actor’s inability to remember the words was “unusual” for a person of his age and suggested that drug and alcohol use affected memory function.
Spiegel testified that aside from claims of physical violence at the center of the defamation case, Depp’s alleged threats, intimidation, verbal outbursts and financial abuse were all part of intimate partner violence “under the guise of maintaining control.
Depp has said his career collapsed after the Washington Post article.
Heard’s attorneys on Monday said that after Depp’s publicists planted negative stories about Heard, calling her a “fraud” and saying her claims were an “abuse hoax”, she, too, lost film work.
Kathryn Arnold, an entertainment industry consultant, said that over a period five years, Heard could have earned $45m to $50m from film, beauty and fashion endorsement deals.
Arnold said Heard’s career had been following a “nice, steady rise” prior to the “defamatory” statements made by Depp’s representative Adam Waldman in 2020.
The film Aquaman should have been Heard’s “star-is-born moment”, Arnold said, but after the bad press, movie offers and magazine covers dried up.
Depp’s attorneys suggested it was not the hoax story that could have derailed her career but claims that she had defecated on their bed.
During a morning break, a woman appeared in court professing her love for Depp and asked when he was going to acknowledge that he was the father of the baby she was holding in her arms. The woman was removed from the court.
The judge will decide on Tuesday whether to allow Depp to have more witnesses. Kate Moss, the supermodel who dated Depp in the 1990s, may testify by video link.
A YouGov opinion poll published on Monday found that, of those surveyed, 6% said they thought Heard was telling the truth, 28% said they thought Depp was, 24% said both are truthful, 17% said neither one is, and 25% said they are not sure.
Asked if Depp should be cast by film-makers in future films, 69% of under-30s strongly or somewhat approved. For Heard, the same sampling recorded 25% approval.