Heard to return to stand in Depp case

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Aquaman actress Amber Heard is expected to testify for a second day in the defamation case brought by her former husband Johnny Depp, the Hollywood star she says assaulted her multiple times before and during their brief marriage.

Heard took the witness stand for the first time on Wednesday in the widely followed trial and said the pair had a "magical" relationship until it turned violent.

Depp's first physical outburst, Heard said, came after she asked what was written on one of his faded tattoos. She said he replied "Wino," and she laughed, thinking it was a joke.

"He slapped me across the face," Heard said.

"I didn't know what was going on. I just stared at him."

Heard said he slapped her twice more and said "You think it's funny, bitch?"

Depp, 58, testified earlier in the trial that the tattoo fight "didn't happen" and that he never hit Heard. He argued that she was the one who was the abuser.

The star of the Pirates Of The Caribbean films and others is suing Heard, 36, for $US50 million ($A69 million), saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Heard has countersued for $US100 million ($A138 million), arguing Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.

Under questioning by her lawyers, Heard said Depp assaulted her "several times," usually when he was drinking or using drugs. During a weekend away with friends in May 2013, Heard said, Depp accused her of inviting what he perceived as suggestive advances from a woman.

That evening, Heard said Depp ripped off her underwear and stuck his fingers "inside" her in a "cavity search" for drugs.

Earlier, psychologist Dawn Hughes testified that Heard had told her Depp had put his fingers up her vagina in a hunt for cocaine.

The case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece Heard authored in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing him. The couple's divorce was finalised in 2017 after less than two years of marriage.

Depp, once among Hollywood's biggest stars, said Heard's allegations cost him "everything". A new Pirates movie was put on hold, and Depp was replaced in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, a Harry Potter spinoff.

Heard's lawyers have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the US Constitution's First Amendment.

A state court judge in Virginia's Fairfax County, outside the nation's capital, is overseeing the trial, which is expected to last until late May.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against the Sun, a British tabloid that labelled him a "wife beater". A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp's lawyers have said they filed the US case in Fairfax County because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant.

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