HOUSTON A Houston hand doctor made famous by his once-ubiquitous TV commercials was found not guilty Tuesday of assaulting his wife in their posh, Memorial-area home last year.
Because Dr. Michael Brown pleaded no contest in 2002 to assaulting his third wife, the most recent charge was a felony and could have sent him to prison for up to 10 years.
Now, he will walk free.
Obviously, I feel relieved. This whole process caused an enormous amount of human suffering, and I m just concerned for my kids, Brown said outside of the courtroom Tuesday, moments after his attorney cut the monitoring bracelet off of his ankle.
Dr. Brown, founder of the Brown Hand Center, was arrested in August of 2010, just days after the incident that led to the assault charge.
His estranged wife, Rachel Brown, testified that the doctor became enraged after she accused him of infidelity. She said Dr. Brown threw several vases and a humanitarian award at her before grabbing her arm and twisting it behind her back, as if he intended to break it.
You are the 12 who can say, Michael Brown, you are guilty of assault, you can stop it before the arm is broken, before there are stitches, before there is a dead body, prosecutor Jane Waters said in her closing arguments.
But in the end, jurors went the other way.
Assistant District Attorney Nathan Hennigan expressed disappointment about the verdict.
For me, this trial was always about Michael Brown. He s been a menace to all of his previous wives, and he s abused them all continuously. And this was about stopping it before he gets to wife number five and does something to her, Hennigan said.
During the trial, prosecutors tried to paint Dr. Brown as a violent, abusive husband, while defense attorney Dick DeGuerin tried to bring Rachel Brown s character into question.
This is not about looks. If it were, Rachel would win and I recognize Michael Brown would lose, DeGuerin said to jurors during closing arguments. Do not confuse beauty with the truth.
DeGuerin pointed out that Rachel Brown, a high-school dropout, has been living a lavish, $100,000-a-month lifestyle all funded by her husband ever since the couple split.
She filed for divorce in January of 2011.
DeGuerin also had Rachel Brown testify about her relationship with former Astro Jeff Bagwell, who she started dating in December of 2010, a month before she filed for divorce.
I don t hold any ill will to Jeff Bagwell at all. He s a great sports hero, but in my opinion he s made a bad choice, said DeGuerin.
During testimony Monday, DeGuerin asked Rachel Brown if her relationship with Bagwell was one of the reasons she and Dr. Brown split, rather than just the alleged assault an assertion Rachel Brown denied.
The defense said they wanted Bagwell to testify about the relationship, but they were unable to locate him to deliver a subpoena.
Jurors said they had trouble believing Rachel Brown s story after they caught her in a lie.
The credibility of Rachel on the stand was kind of blown when we caught her in her first lie, so after that, I started to question whether she was injured in the first place, juror Cecilia Bazan said.
But jurors also said they weren t influenced by the testimony about Bagwell.
We didn t care. That seemed like that was more for a divorce-type situation. This, the thing we were deciding on, was the actual injury, juror Susan Cline said.
As of Tuesday, Michael Brown did not have custody of his children, but his divorce was still pending.
Rachel Brown was not present for the verdict.