Johnny Depp’s injuries when his finger was sliced off in a 2015 blowout fight with Amber Heard are ‘not consistent’ with the actor’s claims that it was cut off by an alcohol bottle hurled at him, an orthopedic surgeon has testified.
The first witness Monday in Depp’s defamation trial against Heard was Dr. Richard Moore, an orthopedic surgeon based in North Carolina who specializes in hand surgery. He said that he became a hand specialist because it is a ‘really pretty, beautiful anatomy.’
Dr. Moore said during his 25 year career he had operated on finger injuries like Depp’s after his fight with Heard in Australia ‘hundreds of times.’
During the drink and drug-fueled argument in March 2015 Depp’s fingertips got sliced off. Depp claims that Heard did it when she threw a bottle of vodka at him. She claims that he smashed it off with a phone. The court has heard from witnesses who said that Depp told them he cut it off himself, something he admitted in texts.
Testifying as an expert for Heard’s legal team, Dr. Moore said that the idea that Depp’s finger was sliced off with a bottle was ‘not consistent’ with the evidence.
He said: ‘It’s not consistent with what we see in the described injury pattern or clinical photographs.’
In court Depp looked up and paid attention, shaking his head with incredulity.
The first witness of the day was Dr. Richard Moore, an orthopedic surgeon based in North Carolina who specializes in hand surgery
Day 20 in the Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp defamation trial kicked off Monday in Fairfax, Virginia
‘She threw the large bottle and it made contact and shattered everywhere and I honestly didn’t feel the pain at first at all, I felt no pain,’ Depp said
Amber Heard arrived to the courtroom Monday full of smiled, with her hair side swept with curls
Depp claims that Heard sliced his finger off when she threw a bottle of vodka at him but she claims that he smashed it off with a phone
Dr. Moore said that there were no injuries to the dorsum of the finger, meaning the back of the hand.
Heard’s lawyer Benjamin Rottenborn asked Dr. Moore if the dorsum was the back of the hand ‘like the Dorsal fin on a shark’ and he agreed – Depp laughed out loud.
Dr. Moore said that it did not appear that the injury happened when Depp’s hand was laying flat on the bar as he claimed.
He said: ‘In that position, were the bottle to strike the finger, it would have struck on the nail and the nail was really not injured. That’s not consistent with that pattern of injury.’
The jury were shown graphic photos of Depp’s injured finger and X-rays which Dr. Moore said showed multiple tiny fragments of bone in the tip and a ‘comminuted fracture’ which was associated with a crush injury.
Such crush injuries could be caused by a finger getting caught in a sliding door or a car door.
Dr. Moore said that the photos showed no injury to the fingernail and if the bottle had hit it there would be injury there.
He said: ‘Everyone who caught their finger in a car door there’s typically bleeding under the bail which creates this hematoma.’
Asked if Depp’s description of the incident ‘lines up’ with photo evidence, Dr. Moore said no.
Depp claimed that the bottle ‘exploded’ after hitting his hand but Dr. Moore said the absence of glass injuries on his hand suggested this was not the case.
He said that the medical files he reviewed ‘did not document the presence of any glass shards and no other associated injuries on the hand.’
Dr. Moore added: ‘This wound doesn’t appear to be a sharp glass laceration.’
Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez tore into Dr. Moore during cross examination. It was the first time she has interrogated a witness since her brutal cross examination of Amber Heard which turned her into a legal star.
Vasquez asked if it was ‘not entirely accurate’ that, as Dr. Moore had just testified, Depp’s hand was laying flat on the bar.
Depp has detailed the explosive fight he and Amber Heard had in March 2015 in Australia where the top of his finger was severed when Heard allegedly threw a bottle of vodka at him
Dr. Moore said that it did not appear that the injury happened when Depp’s hand was laying flat on the bar as he claimed
Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez tore into Dr. Moore during cross examination. It was the first time she has interrogated a witness since her brutal cross examination of Amber Heard which turned her into a legal star
Vasquez pressed Dr. Moore repeatedly and he admitted that he couldn’t rule out that a car door caused the injury to Depp’s finger
Dr. Moore said that Depp’s hand was ‘resting on the edge’ of the bar
Vasquez shot back that Depp said his fingers were ‘hanging over the bar?’
Dr. Moore tried to reply by Vasquez cut him off and said: ‘That’s not my question Dr. Moore.’
She said: ‘Is it true Mr. Depp said his fingers were hanging over the bar?’
Dr. Moore said yes.
Vasquez asked Dr. Moore: ‘You can’t determine what object caused the injury to his finger?’
Dr. Moore said: ‘I can’t determine which object did it. I can say with confidence the described mechanism of the bottle was not consistent…’
Vasquez cut in and said: ‘I understand that. My question is very specific,’ repeating the question again.
Dr. Moore said: ‘It’s a little bit more of a non-specific answer. I can’t determine the exact object but it’s unlikely it was sustained in the manner described’.
Vasquez pressed Dr. Moore repeatedly and he admitted that he couldn’t rule out that a car door caused the injury to Depp’s finger.
Dr. Moore said that according doors would be the ‘classical cause’ for this kind of injury.
Vasquez said: ‘You can’t definitely say what caused the injury to Mr. Depp’s finger?’
When Dr. Moore tried to answer, Vasquez cut in.
She said: ‘Dr. Moore. I understand that but this is the time for me to ask you questions. Right now let’s try my question. You can’t definitely say what caused the injury to Mr. Depp’s finger. Yes or no?’
Dr. Moore said: ‘No.’
Vasquez showed the jury photos of the bar area of the property Depp and Heard rented in Australia where the fight happened.
They showed a broken vodka bottle and a bloody tissue with blood drops around it.
Dr. Moore agreed he had not considered the photos as part of his analysis.
Heard’s lawyer Benjamin Rottenborn read back some of Dr. Moore’s testimony and said that Vasquez ‘cut you off’ before the jury could hear the rest.
Vasquez cut in: ‘I don’t think that’s in the transcript.’
Dr. David Spiegel, an expert in behavioral sciences specifically on drug and alcohol use and intimate partner violence, took the stand Monday
Dr. David Spiegel, an expert in behavioral sciences specifically on drug and alcohol use and intimate partner violence, took the stand Monday.
He said that Depp has exhibited ‘behaviors that are conscience with someone who has a substance use disorder.’
Dr. Spiegel said that his review of the evidence showed that Depp was a ‘perpetrator of intimate partner violence.’
Dr. Spiegel told the court that he was ‘not here to impeach Mr. Depp’s acting skills or his persona, he has way greater skills than I do in that’.
The doctor said he was there to talk about how drugs and alcohol can cause ‘bad things to happen’ when people go past their limit.
Dr. Spiegel reeled off the substances that Depp abused: alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, opiates and others, often at the same time.
He said that Depp’s drug use caused a concerning level of damage to his memory, as evidenced by his former therapist asking him to remember three words and repeat them five minutes later.
Dr. Spiegel said: ‘Mr. Depp was unable to recall any of them and that’s very unusual for a 50-ish year old male.
‘Generally speaking that age group should be remembering two or all three of those words. I do know his lines were also fed to him by earpiece.
‘Any one of us who used alcohol and cocaine to that level of degree – I’m talking about a severe level – is going to have effects.’
Some patients like Depp can mistakenly think that illegal substances make them function better, something the actor testified to.
But actually it was causing harm and Depp needed his lines fed to him through an earpiece and caused him to pass out drunk.
Dr. Spiegel said: ‘Part of that could have been due to the fact that he confessed to doing a movie entirely wasted, so it would be harder to do that.
‘You can tell the processing speed was down. If your thinking rate is down – I’m talking about so slow when we’re trying to move onto other questions you’re still trying to process the original data passed on to us.
‘Fortunately during this trial I see Mr. Depp’s cognition has improved so I commend him on that.’
Dr. Spiegel said that evidence like the video of Depp smashing up his kitchen and the firing and rehiring of his personal doctor showed he had a ‘significant trouble with delaying gratification.’
One way to make that ‘significantly worse is with substances’, Dr. Spiegel said.
Dr. Spiegel said that Depp’s use of vulgar language in texts was ‘disturbing.’
He said: ‘I have no problem with people being angry but the expressing of it and continual ranting was very uncomfortable to read’.
Depp was taking so many prescription drugs that he needed them to wake up in the morning and send him to sleep.
When Depp took prescription drugs and took controlled substances together, it resulted in unexpected effects.
Dr. Spiegel said: ‘You start getting irritable, you start getting agitated, suspicious, jealous, potentially disinhibited, psychotic.
‘We’re talking about not your average everyday use of these substances, we’re talking about chronic use together
‘You’re playing with fire when you’re talking about substances and intimate partner violence.’
Adding illegal substances to a situation where domestic violence was an issue meant his brain could no longer ‘prevent’ Depp from physically assaulting Heard even though such behavior was ‘wrong’.
According to Dr. Spiegel, Depp had a ‘history of self injurious behavior, meaning cutting himself, burning himself’.
Dr. Spiegel reeled of the characteristics of narcissists and addressed whether they applied to Depp.
He said: ‘Narcissism patients have poor control, rapid mood shifts, undue sense of admiration, worship power, they worship control.
‘They have a lack of empathy and people are generally kept around as long as they are useful to them, a large sense of entitlement. Need for praise, and intimate partner violence’.
According to Dr Spiegel, being envious and have a ‘fragile self esteem’ were part of being a narcissistic.
Asked if Depp was a narcissistic, he said: ‘I do think that the fact he thought that Amber owed him and only wanted to be together with him because of his fame is an example of that. I think the jealousy is an example of that.
‘This whole trial in terms of a narcissistic insult is what’s going on.’