Johnny Depp, Amber Heard’s libel case is now in jurors’ hands. Read the closing arguments

After six weeks of intense testimony, Johnny Depp’s libel lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard is finally in the hands of the jury.

Friday marked closing arguments in the case: Depp’s attorneys Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew stood up for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor, painting a picture of Heard as the abuser is the couple’s tumultuous marriage and claiming that Heard’s December 2018 Washington Post op-ed defamed the actor and ruined his reputation.

Judge Penney Azcarate excused jurors for the long Memorial Day weekend just after 5 p.m. ET on Friday. The jury will resume deliberations Tuesday morning.

Vasquez, who has become internet famous amid the high-profile trial, asked the jury on Friday “to give Mr. Depp his life back” by finding Heard guilty of libel. Heard “ruined his life by falsely telling the world she was a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of Mr. Depp,” Vasquez told the jury in closing arguments.

“There is an abuser in this courtroom, but it is not Mr. Depp,” Vasquez said. “And there is a victim of domestic abuse in this courtroom, but it is not Ms. Heard.”

In sharp contrast, Heard’s lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn called Depp “a monster” who not only abused his ex-wife, but with this lawsuit, Depp also continued an ongoing smear campaign he launched after Heard filed for divorce.

“In Mr. Depp’s world, you don’t leave Mr. Depp,” he said. “If you do, he will start a campaign of global humiliation against you.”

The weekslong trial began April 11 in Fairfax County, Virginia. With broadcast cameras in the courtroom, a celebrity trial that garnered heightened interest from the outset has only gained momentum as fans have weighed in on social mediaand lined up overnight for a coveted courtroom seat.

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court for the 2018 op-ed where she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.

Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp after his lawyer called her allegations a hoax.

The case is now in the hands of the jury for deliberation.

Rebuttal arguments for Johnny Depp
With their final rebuttal Friday afternoon, Depp’s team called on the jury to “set the record straight,” arguing Heard has repeatedly lied about her relationship with Depp, before and during the trial.

“Ms. Heard lied to you,” Vasquez told the jury, arguing Heard and her team mischaracterized witness testimonies in order to make her case. “You’ve been here, you’ve listened to the testimony. You’ve heard the record.”

Dubbing Heard’s testimony a “performance,” Vasquez argued that, if Heard’s claims were true, she would have had “observable,” serious injuries requiring medical attention. The actress was “never going to stop calling Mr. Depp an abuser,” so bringing this issue to court was the only way to end it, Vasquez added.

Depp “said things he shouldn’t have” to Heard, the lawyer allowed, but noted the difference between using colorful language and a “dark sense of humor” with physical and sexual abuse.

“Her story is a constantly moving target,” Vasquez continued. “It never stays the same. Mr. Depp owns his mistake. … (Heard) cannot take any responsibility for what she has done.”

She added: “What you have in the end is Ms. Heard’s word. Do you trust it?”

Depp smiled and hugged Vasquez as she returned to her seat.

Rebuttal arguments for Amber Heard
Heard’s legal team in turn stood their ground, reiterating claims Depp abused Heard.

Rottenborn called it “interesting” that Depp’s attorneys addressed “none of Ms. Heard’s witnesses,” and called out Vasquez’s rebuttal, in which she claimed verbal abuse didn’t count as abuse.

“If you believe Depp was abusive to Amber one time ever … then your job is very easy,” he said, later adding “the evidence shows Ms. Heard didn’t commit abuse hoaxes.”

“Stand up for victims of domestic abuse everywhere who suffer in silence,” Rottenborn concluded. “Stand up for the freedom of speech, the freedom to speak about your life that the First Amendment protects. Give Amber Heard her voice back. Give Amber Heard her life back.”

Closing arguments for Johnny Depp
Earlier on Friday, filling their two-hour allotted time, Vasquez and Chew maintained that Depp never abused Heard and that Depp’s career and reputation plummeted following the Washington Post op-ed.

Vasquez called Heard’s testimony “a performance, the role of her lifetime as a heroic survival survivor of brutal abuse,” saying she “went all in” and “spun a story of shocking, overwhelming, brutal abuse.” Vasquez accused Heard of doctoring the photos and said evidence that Heard has embellished some of her injuries is proof that all her claims of abuse are unfounded.

The attorney attempted to poke holes in the many alleged instances of abuse detailed throughout the trial, including an alleged violent 2015 brawl, where Depp said Heard threw a vodka bottle at him, severing his fingertip. Heard in turn has testified that during that fight, Depp sexually assaulted her with a bottle.

Vasquez said that Heard provided no pictures or evidence from the alleged incident and pointed to witnesses who testified they did not see any injuries on Heard.

Vasquez said the case is not Heard’s word versus Depp’s, but her word against that of many witnesses who took the stand in the trial in defense of the actor, including doctors, nurses, officers and Depp’s ex-girlfriend Kate Moss. “Either (Heard is) is a victim of ugly, horrible abuse, or she is a woman who is willing to say absolutely anything,” Vasquez said.

Chew said Depp has taken ownership of his struggle with drugs and alcohol. “He admits to them. He told you all about them. But he is not a violent abuser. He’s not the abuser as Ms. Heard claims and he did not and does not deserve to have his life his legacy destroyed by a vicious lie.”

The lawyer added the case “has never been about money” or about “punishing” Heard.

“It is about Mr. Depp’s reputation and freeing him from the prison in which he has lived for the last six years,” he said.

Closing arguments for Amber Heard
Heard’s lawyers Rottenborn and Elaine Bredehoft used their two hours in an effort to capture Depp as a “wild animal” who abused drugs and alcohol and said when Heard hit him, she was defending herself.

Rottenborn said the nitpicking over Heard’s evidence of abuse ignores the fact there’s overwhelming evidence on her behalf and sends a dangerous message to domestic-violence victims.

“If you didn’t take pictures, it didn’t happen,” Rottenborn said. “If you did take pictures, they’re fake. If you didn’t tell your friends, they’re lying. If you did tell your friends, they’re part of the hoax.”

Her attorney continued: “If you didn’t seek medical treatment, you weren’t injured. If you did seek medical treatment, you’re crazy. If you do everything that you can to help your spouse, the person that you love, rid himself of the crushing drug and alcohol abuse that spins him into an abusive, rage-filled monster, you’re a nag. And if you finally decide that enough is enough, you’ve had enough of the fear, enough of the pain that you have to leave to save yourself, you’re a gold digger.”

Rottenborn claimed multiple times that if Depp abused Heard even one time, then she wins. He went on to show photos, videos and “vile and disgusting” text messages shared as evidence earlier in the trial that he said reveal “the real Johnny Depp.”

“These words are a window into the heart and mind of America’s favorite pirate. … Let’s see the monster in the flesh,” Rottenborn said before showing a clip captured by Heard of a destructive and irate Depp.

He asked the jury to let Heard move on with her life and to “stand up for the freedom of speech.”

The lawyer said that Heard suffers from PTSD, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares and anxiety and asked the jury to fairly compensate her “for everything she’s been through.”

What the jury is deciding
As the trial came to an end, Judge Azcarate advised the jury that its verdict must be unanimous, and that jurors cannot consult anything outside the court’s trial materials, including media coverage.

While the jury deliberates, it will have to focus not only on whether there was abuse but also whether Heard’s op-ed piece can be considered legally defamatory. The article itself focuses mostly on policy questions of domestic violence, but Depp’s lawyer point to two passages in the article, as well as an online headline that they say defamed Depp.

In the first passage Heard writes that “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath.” Depp’s lawyers call it a clear reference to Depp, given that Heard publicly accused Depp of domestic violence in 2016 — two years before she wrote the article.

In a second passage she states “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

The online headline reads “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath.”

“She didn’t mention his name. She didn’t have to,” Chew said. “Everyone knew exactly who and what Ms. Heard was talking about.”

Heard’s lawyers argue she can’t be held liable for the headline because she didn’t write it, and that the two passages in the article are not about the abuse allegations themselves but how Heard’s life changed after she made them.

In testimony throughout the trial, Heard detailed more than a dozen episodes of physical and sexual assault that she said Depp inflicted on her. Depp said he never struck Heard and that she concocted the abuse allegations to gain an advantage in divorce proceedings.

In a final week of cross-examination at the end of May, both Depp and Heard returned to the stand with impassioned testimony.