Fans Outside Courthouse React to Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard Verdict, Celebrate His 'Fresh Start'

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Fans Outside Courthouse React to Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard Verdict, Celebrate His 'Fresh Start'
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A large crowd of spectators gathered outside of the Fairfax County Courthouse awaiting the verdict in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation case Wednesday, erupting into loud cheers when the jury's decision was formally announced.

The jury awarded Depp $15 million in damages (due to Virginia limits on punitive damages, the judge reduced the total to $10.35 million), determining that Heard defamed him three times in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed. Heard, 36, was awarded $2 million in damages after winning one of her three defamation claims relating to April 2020 comments made by Depp's then-lawyer Adam Waldman.

Fans, mostly pro-Depp, from around the country — and globe — have flocked to the controversial six-week trial, waiting in long lines for a chance to get inside the courtroom and cheering from the outside. During her testimony, Heard even addressed being "bombarded" with "vitriol" online and while entering the courthouse.

For more on the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial verdict, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

"I am harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day. Even just walking into this courtroom, sitting here in front of the world, having the worst parts of my life, things that I've lived through, used to humiliate me. People want to kill me, and they tell me so every day," she said on the witness stand last week.

Joanne Garcia of Fairfax was inside the courtroom when the verdict was read. She said the result of the trial means a fresh start for Depp, 58.

"My heart was just frozen," she tells PEOPLE. "But when the word came out that he won, I was just so glad. I want him to be happy, to forget all of this. He can even take off the tattoos, start fresh and not think about anything in his past."

Donna Stump from Nashville was in northern Virginia for her nephew's graduation and decided to come to the courthouse when she heard a verdict had been reached Wednesday afternoon.

"I felt it was important to come and see the end of the verdict, so I actually left a little early to be here," she says, referencing her party. "There were lots of issues that touch many people from violence and domestic violence and everything else, and I felt that it was important to be part of history."

Stump says she was "extremely happy and relieved" after the verdict was read in the courtroom: "I felt like justice was served."

Holding a "Justice for Johnny" sign, Sofia Cadena from Tysons Corner, Virginia, says the verdict demonstrated that "violence has no gender." Cadena, who has been coming to the trial every day since the start on April 11, says she was "speechless" when the verdict was read. She says some of her male family members were victims of domestic violence so she had a personal connection to the trial.

RELATED: Verdict in Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard Defamation Case Is 'Strange' and 'Unexpected,' Legal Experts Say

Fans wait outside the Fairfax County Courthouse as they watch a livestream of the Depp vs. Heard case verdict
Fans wait outside the Fairfax County Courthouse as they watch a livestream of the Depp vs. Heard case verdict

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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"I've had uncles who suffered from domestic violence and family members that really were not supporting of them because they didn't believe that men can be victims," she says. "So I stand for my family and for those that don't have a voice, those men that don't have a voice."

Cadena also says she thinks the verdict shows men can also be part of the #MeToo movement: "Right now, we're proving that men and women can be victims of domestic violence."

Sarah Proctor from Fairfax says the verdict had a personal meaning for her as well. "I was so happy when the verdict was read. From somebody who has been through a similar situation, you want to make sure that the right person comes out on top," she says. "You can't really beat facts. The facts are pretty clear today. I'm just really happy that the verdict came out the way it did and Johnny was able to speak his truth finally. And the public heard him, and the jury heard him, and now he's going to be off doing some great things I'm sure."

Depp, himself, said in a statement after that he felt like he was given his "life back" and the "best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun." Although Depp was in the U.K. when the verdict was read in Virginia, his fans still turned up to support him in person.

Kenia from Fairfax decided to come to witness the verdict being read in-person because she is a fan of Depp attorney Camille Vasquez, who cross-examined Heard during the trial and generated an online following. "She's an inspiration," she says. "I liked seeing how powerful Camille was in the courtroom."

Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez, attorneys for US actor Johnny Depp, arrive to speak to reporters outside the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse
Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez, attorneys for US actor Johnny Depp, arrive to speak to reporters outside the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Jody from Orange, Virginia, about 90 minutes from the courthouse, tells PEOPLE she was pleased with the verdict and felt like the jury did their due diligence in the case. "It seemed like the jury had really considered everything, so I felt like it was fair and balanced," she says.

Greg McCandless from Reston, Virginia — sporting a pirate hat to commemorate Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean role as Capt. Jack Sparrow — says he came to support Depp because he also thought Heard defamed the actor with her 2018 op-ed. He adds of her testimony, "The bottle incident, I think that really hurt Amber a lot. She may be a good actress in the movies but not so much of a good actress here in court."

In a statement after the verdict, Heard — who was booed and faced chants of "Liar!" while leaving the courthouse — said she was "disappointed with what this verdict means for other women," calling it a "setback." She added, "It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously."

Heard said she was "heartbroken" that "the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband." The actress said Depp's legal team "succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the U.K."

Fans wait outside the Fairfax County Courthouse as they watch a livestream of the Depp vs. Heard case verdict
Fans wait outside the Fairfax County Courthouse as they watch a livestream of the Depp vs. Heard case verdict

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Women in Film, a nonprofit that advocates for women working in the movie and television industry, issued a statement Wednesday, saying its members are "deeply concerned" that the verdict "will set precedent exacerbating barriers victims face in coming forward." The statement added, "The trial and its reception demonstrated a regressive trend of retaliation against those who speak out about violence or abuse perpetrated by those in power."

Ruth Glenn, who is the president and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, spoke to The Daily Beast about what the verdict could signal.

"I would ask the nation and your readers, would you think twice about coming forward after witnessing what's happened? I don't think that it will necessarily be the only thing that stops someone from seeking support and safety, but I can tell you it just adds another layer," said Glenn.

"You have to understand who's really pulling the strings. Who's exerting the power; who's exerting the control. Every victim does not look the same, and they don't respond the same," she told the outlet. "I hope that when the dust settles from this that we don't let what we've learned go away. We should recognize when power and control is being exerted — and we should have a deeper conversation as a nation about the dynamics of domestic violence and how that may or may not have played out in this trial."