Amber Heard’s sister was “terrified” of her “extremely violent” sibling and feared that she would kill her husband Johnny Depp, according to a declaration from a former friend that has resurfaced during the multi-million-dollar defamation trial.
Jennifer Howell, a former friend and boss of Ms Heard’s sister Whitney Henriquez, submitted a sworn declaration to Mr Depp’s legal team back in July 2020 casting doubt on Ms Henriquez’s testimony during the Pirates star’s UK libel trial with The Sun.
Ms Howell claimed that Ms Henriquez confided in her that she was afraid of her famous sister who had abused her both “psychologically and physically”.
Ms Henriquez also allegedly told her “on multiple occasions that she did not know why [Mr Depp] was staying in the relationship [with Ms Heard] nor why he was putting up with Amber’s abuse”.
In the declaration, Ms Howell also detailed a drastically different account of the same March 2015 incident that Ms Henriquez testified about in court in Fairfax, Virginia, on Wednesday.
On the witness stand at the defamation trial, Ms Heard’s sister claimed that Mr Depp hit her during a violent attack on the Aquaman actress.
The incident, which became known as “the staircase incident”, allegedly took place inside the downtown Los Angeles penthouse where Ms Heard and Mr Depp lived together.
Ms Henriquez testified that her former brother-in-law struck her in the back, hurled a Red Bull can at a friend, grabbed Ms Heard by the hair and hit her before trashing Ms Heard’s closet.
“Johnny then hurls a red bull can and it hits Debbie [Lloyd, his nurse] in the back. She didn’t even react, she didn’t even seem to notice,” Ms Henriquez told the court.
“I’m standing up there at the top of the stairs with my back to the stairs and that’s when Johnny runs up the stairs.
“I’m facing Amber. He comes up behind me and he strikes me in the back.”
Ms Henriquez said that her sister shouted at Mr Depp “Don’t hit my f***ing sister” and then “smacks him, lands one”.
After Ms Heard struck her husband, Ms Henriquez testified that Mr Depp grabbed his wife by the hair and “repeatedly” hit her in the face.
“Johnny had already grabbed Amber by the hair with one hand and was whacking her repeatedly in the face with the other,” she testified.
Another friend pulled them apart and took Mr Depp to another room, while she took her sister into a room, she told the court.
Ms Henriquez testified that she could hear Mr Depp “screaming like an animal”.
She said that she stayed with her sister in a room all night and when they left the room the next day she found Ms Heard’s closet had been “completely destroyed”.
Following the incident, she claimed she found a non-disclosure agreement left on her counter for her to sign.
She said that she did not sign the NDA.
In Ms Howell’s declaration, she disputes Ms Henriquez’s courtroom testimony – which she previously told the court in the UK case.
Instead, Ms Howell said that Ms Henriquez had told her that she had been trying to stop Ms Heard from attacking Mr Depp that night.
She also claimed that it was Ms Heard who almost pushed her down the stairs.
According to Ms Howell, Ms Henriquez worked for her at the nonprofit The Art of Elysium at the time and that she came to stay with her in her guest room following the incident because she didn’t feel she could return to the building where her sister and brother-in-law resided.
She said that Ms Henriquez was “a mess” when she arrived at her home and told her that she “tried to stop her sister Amber hitting and attacking Johnny on the stairs”.
“Whitney said when she tried to intervene to stop Amber from going after Johnny, Amber nearly pushed Whitney down the stairs,” she wrote in the declaration.
“She told me she was worried Amber ‘was going to kill Johnny.’”
She wrote that her father had reminded her that “Whitney had moved in with me because she was terrified of her sister”.
While Ms Henriquez was staying with her, she said that Mr Depp was checking in on her and that they called each other “sis” and “brother”.
Ms Howell also described another time where she said that Ms Henriquez told her that Ms Heard had thrown a glass of red wine at her in an elevator.
When Mr Depp lost the tip of a finger during a violent incident between the former couple in Australia, Ms Howell claimed that Ms Hernandez proclaimed in the office “oh my god, she has done it now. She has cut off his f***ing finger”.
Ms Henriquez was asked about her relationship with Ms Howell under cross-examination from Mr Depp’s attorneys on Wednesday.
She told the court that she moved in with Ms Howell because Mr Depp was accusing her of leaking stories to the press.
She said the two of them had been“close” and admitted that she confided in her “about some things”.
When asked if she called her “your chosen sister” – a phrase Ms Howell said she had called her in the declaration – Ms Henriquez didn’t respond.
Ms Howell also wrote in the declaration that Ms Heard’s mother Paige had also told her that the reason Mr Depp and Ms Heard split up was because her daughter was “violent and emotional”.
Mr Depp is suing his ex-wife for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she penned for The Washington Post where she described herself as a “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor is not named in the article, which is titled “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
However Mr Depp claims that it falsely implies that he is a domestic abuser – something that he strongly denies – and that it has left him struggling to land roles in Hollywood. He is suing for $50m.
Ms Heard is countersuing for $100m, accusing Mr Depp of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment”.