The Good Doctor

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"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.

Hotel security arrived minutes later, Darlina testified, and she told Brown to leave or they would take him to jail. After bandaging the wounds, he left, promising to meet his wife at the airport for the return flight, she said in court. He never showed, so the family boarded the plane without him.

Back in The Woodlands, Darlina testified, her husband called her from Vegas saying he was bleeding, that people were following him and that he'd taken 30 Vicodin tablets. She and the boyfriend of the doctor's office manager flew back and found him in his room at Caesar's Palace.

"…Mike was telling me I was the devil and to stay away from him," Darlina testified. She told a courtroom the boyfriend coaxed the doctor out by telling him they needed to leave because "they are coming to get you."

During the last full year of the marriage, Michael Brown began making homemade videotapes that provide a window into his thoughts. The cassette segments, found in his safe, were shot using a propped-up camera and occasional audio from a phone speaker. Most of the taping apparently was done during sporadic separations from his wife.

Near the beginning, Brown offers a disclaimer that "this is a Hollywood movie script I'm practicing and has no basis in truth whatsoever, I'm not suicidal." If he intended a script, the narrative then becomes indistinguishable from his life in the near future.

In one sequence Brown holds a bottle of whiskey and points a pistol to his head, all the while musing on the possibility of suicide as salvation from the hell he claims his wife has put him through. After speculating that repair work on an air conditioner was really a plot by his wife and mother-in-law to poison him with cyanide gas, Brown addresses his infant daughter, warning her to fear her mother.

"I want to believe she's a good person, a little wayward," Brown says of Darlina, "but in order to do that, I have to believe that she's stupid. Well, no, she's not stupid, but if you don't believe she's stupid, and she's doing these things, then she's deceitful at best, and at worst she's evil.

"You get away from your mother. She's got a bond with her mother that has ruined my life, and she'll ruin yours too…Your mother is making me hurt so much that it's like I am in an oven being burned, and the flames are all around me."

In a segment that records a phone conversation with Darlina, Brown's nasal voice is insistent as a petulant child as he chides his wife for failing to live up to biblical standards. The doctor quotes a passage: "You wives will submit to your husbands, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church." He pauses, then adds sarcastically, "Doesn't say anything about arguing your point ad infinitum. What's your response?"

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Tim Fleck
Contact: Tim Fleck