The Good Doctor

Michael Brown made it big in the hand clinic business. But as his wife discovered, there was a much darker side to this dynamic surgeon.

Dottei conferred with Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Mike Valdez. Assault and terroristic complaints were issued against the doctor. The investigator also got a court order that would keep Michael in jail for at least 24 hours so Darlina could find safe haven before he was released.

However, as officers began to look for the doctor, Darlina started to have doubts. First, Dottei says, the wife pleaded not to have her husband arrested at his business as "he will kill me for sure if he is arrested in front of his peers."

Darlina had even phoned her husband at his office to tell him that arrest warrants had been issued. She told Dottei she was afraid and she "fucked up." The turnaround was complete when the wife, after talking by phone with her husband, agreed to drop the charges.

Muras was appalled by the sight of her hospitalized daughter.
Deron Neblett
Muras was appalled by the sight of her hospitalized daughter.

To make sure that happened, the doctor summoned up an old ally: attorney Rob Todd, who left Houston City Council last month because of term limitations. Todd had represented Michael since the early '90s on various legal matters. Darlina says Todd accompanied the Browns on at least one ski trip and was a frequent guest at pool parties.

Three days after Darlina reported the attack, Todd showed up at her residence to escort Darlina to formally retract her allegations.

"I told Todd I'd meet him at the courthouse, and he said, 'No, no, I'll come pick you up,' " recalls Darlina. "I told him at that time, 'I'm gonna tell them that he hit me. I'm going to tell them I don't want to press charges. But I'm not going to lie about it.' "

According to her, Todd replied, "If you do that, then they're not going to drop the charges."

Darlina says the councilman never once asked her whether her husband beat her. "Rob acted like my best friend," she recalls. "He could see the bruises on me, on my neck. But he didn't want to know what happened. He didn't want to hear it. It's like he didn't care."

(Contacted by the Houston Press, Todd cited both his attorney-client relationship with Brown and a judge's gag order in declining comment.)

Darlina says Todd told her that if the charges stood, her husband would lose his medical license and she would be left penniless. With Todd on hand, Darlina signed an affidavit retracting her story. The following Monday, Todd again picked her up for a meeting with Assistant D.A. Valdez.

"I had to sit there and lie through my teeth," recalls Darlina.

Detective Dottei knew it, too.

"Oh, yeah. Definitely. In the beginning, she was cooperative, and that's how I got the charge and called the cops. Then it was recalled after she went in and dropped the charges.

"Yeah, if he had left her alone, I think that would have gone through."

The investigator had her own exchanges earlier with Councilman Todd. According to Dottei's report, Todd warned her that she had committed a federal offense by personally contacting his client earlier about surrendering, and that he would get her in trouble with her superiors. Dottei says Todd admonished her that she was not to speak with Brown again.

More than two years later, Dottei still chuckles at the memory. "He was amusing to me," she says of Todd. "By telling me I had committed a federal offense by contacting his client. Puh-leeze. Pissed me off, but it wasn't threatening.

"When I get a case like this, it just makes me work that much harder," notes the detective. "You know, because they think who they are means they can't be arrested. I can't stand that."

By September 2000, the Browns were back together and Darlina was four months pregnant with her second child. They took her mother and stepfather along on a weekend trip to Las Vegas, ostensibly to buy cages for exotic animals stocked at one of the doctor's ranches.

One night, a moody Brown told Darlina he was going out to get some food. At six-thirty the next morning, Darlina said, he came back smelling of alcohol.

"This is not good for the marriage," she later testified about that day. Brown allegedly exploded, punching several holes in the hotel room wall and crying that Darlina didn't love him. According to the wife's testimony, Brown pulled a knife, held it to his throat and threatened to "end it all."

Darlina testified that she called her mother at a nearby hotel and asked, "Can you come over? It's fixing to get bad." She tried to get Michael to talk to Muras on the phone, a tactic she'd used before during marital confrontations because he was intimidated by the older woman.

The wife says Brown smashed the phone into a glass tabletop, fell and started sawing on several of his fingers with the knife.

"Part of his finger flew up on the wall," Darlina said in her testimony. "There was blood everywhere. I was begging for him to put a towel around it so it would stop the bleeding."

In a deposition, Brown admitted putting the knife to his throat and threatening suicide, but claimed he cut his fingers accidentally when he fell.

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Actually Brown's first wife was Diane Christine Bates according to the Harris County Clerks office which he married in 1978 which like his others marriages didn't last long wonder why?

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