The Good Doctor

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When Darlina asks whether Brown thinks he's treating her properly, he replies, "Is that response on here? No, it doesn't say cross-examining your husband. No, I don't see that in here."

Brown warns his wife that he's "not going to have another man raising my babies."

He refers again to the biblical passage, then states, "The best I can do is beg you to come home, and try to live that kind of marriage…Now, do you want to try to come home and have a normal life or not?"

In a tired voice, Darlina answers, "What you are talking about, Mike, is not a normal life."

"So get your shit, get your baby, and come home," he continues. "And be nice. And stop running to your mother. And learn how to say 'I'm sorry' for the sake of the relationship."

Incredibly enough, she returned.

The bizarre actions, coupled with the alleged violence, raise an obvious question: How could a spouse -- especially this successful surgeon -- be capable of it?

Brown did not talk with the Press. But in legal proceedings, he and his lawyers strenuously denied the accounts put forth by his wife and others. He argued that she was the attacker, and he merely tried to defend himself.

(His attorneys have gained a gag order from a judge barring discussion of the allegations, and they cited that ruling in declining comment. All Press interviews with participants in the case were conducted before that order was issued.)

Brown has been treated in the past by several doctors for suspected bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic depression. Medication can enable those with the condition to lead normal lives. Brown took lithium, although he said in a deposition that he was uncertain if he had the condition, but didn't think he did.

A letter addressed to a daughter was found in his office safe. It was titled "The Brilliant Sensitive Personality Exposed (Formerly, bipolar) Michael G. Brown, M.D."

Darlina speculated that a contributing factor to the violent incidents was his combining lithium and alcohol.

However, hard questions focused on Darlina as well. If her husband was as brutal as she claimed, why didn't she just leave him?

She says she had learned the way to stop the violence was "telling him I was sorry, that it was all my fault, 'I'll be better, you're right, I am a bitch.' All the times he would hit me, as long as I would say something like that he would stop."

Darlina says the Las Vegas incident finally opened her eyes.

"I became very depressed. I didn't see things getting better. Mike wasn't trying to get help [for his problems], and he didn't even acknowledge he had a problem."

The clincher came when she found her husband's brother-in-law changing the locks on the Woodlands house. Brown later explained to her that he wanted new deadbolt locks for which only he would have the key. According to her, the exchange provoked Brown into punching her. The brother-in-law helped pull him off, Darlina testified, and she fled with Sophie.

Yet she went back to her husband again after he repeatedly called her, apologized and promised it would never happen again.

Her rationale indicates classic battered wife syndrome.

"When you're in that kind of situation, it's hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there, but I was there and I believed everything he said. It's crazy, now that I'm out of it and looking back," Darlina tries to explain. "It's not that I'm naive or stupid; he just had so much control over me that I believed him."

Whatever the reasoning, the marriage roared toward a violent conclusion on a late night in January 2001.

Darlina testified Brown came home after visiting a Rick's topless club in the area. He later offered the novel explanation that he'd run out of good wine at his home and went to Rick's to get some. Even though she was seven months pregnant with their second daughter, the physician began slugging her in the face and clubbed her with a post he'd ripped off a bed, she says.

This time, her usual tactic of saying, "You're right, honey, I am a bitch," didn't help.

Darlina would later tell deputies that the doctor dragged her downstairs by her hair, pulling out clumps along the way. Tufts of hair were later recovered from the bedroom.

After he shoved her onto a dining room coffee table, Darlina told deputies, she managed to break free and flee upstairs. She locked herself in her nanny's bedroom, she says, as Brown pursued her and fired several shots through the door. Between holding down the inner knob of the door to keep her husband at bay and making frantic calls to 911, Darlina says, she prayed for her life and that of her unborn child.

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Tim Fleck
Contact: Tim Fleck