By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Attorneys for Johnny Depp attempted to discredit Amber Heard’s abuse claims in the former couple’s defamation trial on Tuesday, introducing a knife she gave as a gift to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star and affectionate notes she wrote to him.
At the start of Tuesday’s proceedings, lawyer Camille Vasquez asked jurors to examine the knife Heard bought for Depp in 2012. Heard, best known for her role in “Aquaman,” had testified that Depp had already become violent toward her by that time.
“This is the knife you gave to the man who would get drunk and violent toward you?” the lawyer asked.
“This is the knife I gave him as a present, yes,” she said, adding that she did not think he would stab her with it.
Depp, 58, is suing Heard for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse.
Heard, 36, has countersued for $100 million, arguing that Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.
Depp has testified that he never hit Heard and argued that she was the abuser in their relationship. He said she threw a vodka bottle at him in early 2015, severing the top of his right middle finger.
Heard said she did not cause the finger injury and said she only hit him to defend herself or her sister.
On Tuesday, Depp’s attorney read entries from a journal that Heard said the couple kept to share love notes.
“True love isn’t about just the madness of passion or instead picking the safety of peace. No, it’s about both,” Heard wrote in May 2015, two months after Depp’s finger injury.
“I still, perhaps more than ever, want to rip you apart, devour you and savor the taste,” she added.
In another excerpt after their July 2015 honeymoon aboard the Orient Express train, Heard said she “couldn’t imagine a more gorgeous honeymoon,” and added, “I love you more and more every passing day.”
Heard had told jurors on Monday that Depp assaulted her and wrapped a T-shirt around her neck during the trip.
A month later, Heard wrote that Depp was “my cornerstone, my heart, my all.”
“You are my life. I hate it when we fight. I hate having hurt you. I love you more than anything,” she wrote.
Asked about entries, Heard said she tried to “nurture as much peace as she possibly could,” and that “when things were good they were really good.”
The actors wed in February 2015 and their divorce was finalized about two years later.
The legal case centers on a December 2018 opinion piece by Heard that appeared in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear that Heard was referencing him.
Depp, once among Hollywood’s biggest stars, said Heard’s allegations cost him “everything.” A new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was put on hold, and Depp was replaced in the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise, a “Harry Potter” spinoff.
Heard’s attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27.
Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against the Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife beater.” A London High Court judge ruled that he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.
Depp’s lawyers filed the case in Fairfax County, Virginia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler and Mark Porter)
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