She had an abortion at age 17, and had been living with her sister Carla in a Clear Lake apartment. Carla got pregnant and went to live with their father, so Darlina moved back in with her mother and stepfather. And she was more than willing when co-workers invited her to the swimming pool of Brown's posh home on East Wedgwood Glen in The Woodlands.
They engaged in long conversations, and by the end of the evening, she felt comfortable enough to sleep there that night. Both say they did not have sex then, although a whirlwind romance was on the way. By the end of that same week, Darlina moved her overnight bag into Brown's residence. She says she was willing but naive.
"I had had relationships before, but I had never lived with a man." In those early years, she says, Brown delighted in dazzling her with vacations in Europe, ski trips to Colorado and an African safari. She soon resigned from her job, saying Brown wanted her with him on the East Coast, where he was teaching a course on surgical procedures.
"He told me that he wanted me to quit my job, that he loved me, and that he would support me. And we would just go have fun, go travel, and everything would be great."
If it wasn't great or even tolerable, they had a prenuptial contract to fall back on. In the event of a split, she would receive a vehicle comparable to what she was driving, a flat $100,000, plus $60,000 for each year of the marriage. According to Darlina, Brown insisted on the pact "because his last wife had taken him for everything, and he didn't want me to do the same thing."
Darlina and the doctor spoke vows penned by Brown for their March 1995 wedding ceremony at the Bentwater Yacht Club. They departed for Hawaii, but the honeymoon was over almost as soon as they returned.
Darlina says her husband quickly became more and more controlling, insisting she drop plans for college and demanding she begin carrying a cell phone so he could reach her instantaneously.
Within a year, they had sought marriage counseling to try to work out mounting disagreements. Fights had become frequent. Romance, according to the wife, had been replaced by an increasingly oppressive routine.
"He would come home, do his work, talk on the cell phone. And when it was time to go to bed, okay. It was no loving and attention or compliments or anything like that It was just roll over, roll over here."
According to Darlina, the doctor had an overriding obsession: "He wanted sex morning and night, all the time. He was never happy unless he got sex I would give him sex, but I didn't want to do it every day."
The doctor's fascination with firearms also intensified, says Darlina. "He had guns in his attic, guns in his bedroom, he had guns in his vehicle," says her mother, Linda Muras. "Pistols galore, big hunting rifles, semiautomatic machine guns. He had them out at the ranch, and we were down there one weekend and he got to shooting them off."
According to Darlina, Brown habitually carried two permitted handguns, and demanded that she also carry a gun. She recalls that the only time he was unarmed was while he was in surgery. When they first began their relationship, she says, he told her his second wife was trying to kill him, and he occasionally wore a bulletproof vest and hired police for home and office security.
"He did tell me that he was scared for his life, and I asked why," says Muras. "He expressed it that it was people he had to deal with. Also, he said he was scared of his ex-wife's family."
Relations with his own wife continued to decline sharply. Darlina, in 1996, traveled to Cancun, Mexico, with 25-year-old Randy Hodde. That triggered a surreptitious affair that lasted nearly a year. When she eventually confessed to Michael, he filed for divorce and temporarily moved in with another woman.
The two eventually reconciled, and there was new hope for the marriage with the birth of daughter Sophie in 1999. Instead, the relationship began spiraling deeper into violence, as Darlina discovered on a particularly brutal night in November of that year.
Darlina told investigators that her husband came home drunk the previous evening, so she'd told him that she was taking their daughter and staying with her mother until he sobered up.