Former hand surgeon found not guilty of assaulting his wife

September 20, 2011 6:46:20 PM PDT
After nearly a week's worth of testimony and half a day of deliberations, former famed hand surgeon Dr. Michael Brown on Tuesday was found not guilty of assaulting his wife. Dr. Brown was accused of roughing up his fourth wife, Rachel Brown, during an argument at their home last year. During the trial, the prominent couple's dirty laundry was aired in open court. She claims Brown attacked her after she accused him of having an affair.

The jury deliberated Tuesday starting at 9am for just an hour after a four-hour deliberation on Monday.

Brown had been charged with assaulting Rachel Brown last August. She claimed he twisted her arm behind her back. Her 13-year-old daughter testified she saw Brown chasing her mother beforehand.

The defense said that Rachel Brown made up the assault because of her romantic ties to former Astros player Jeff Bagwell. They claimed she had already wanted a divorce from Brown before she claimed she was assaulted.

The stakes were high for the former hand surgeon who had a prior conviction for assaulting his third wife when she was pregnant using a bed post. If the jury had found him guilty, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison.

After the not guilty verdict was read, Brown hugged his defense attorneys, Dick DeGuerin and Brian Wice. All along, he claimed he was innocent.

"Obviously I feel relieved. This whole process caused an enormous amount of human suffering and I'm just concerned for my kids. I just want to take care of my children and I'm very grateful to God," said Dr. Brown.

That was all Brown's attorneys allowed him to say publicly. But it was the jury who had plenty to say about Rachel Brown. She testified against her husband, accusing him of assaulting her during an argument. Rachel Brown testified specifically that Dr. Brown twisted her arm behind her back. However, after being dismissed by the judge, jurors told us Rachel Brown wasn't believable.

"We just felt like Rachel lied," said juror Patti Arnold.

"We felt like she tried to portray herself as somebody she wasn't in the beginning," said juror Pat Prouty.

Rachel Brown had taken the stand last week and at first testified she did not use profanity during the argument. She later recanted when questioned by the defense. A change in testimony, the jurors said, had a huge impact on their decision.

"For us, it was like, if the truth is on your side, you've got no reason to lie. Anyone on this jury would have found it reasonable if somebody had been cussing, especially if their husband had been cheating on them," said Prouty.

These jurors say they just didn't believe Dr. Brown intended to hurt his wife.

"To call him guilty we would have had to say that he intended to catch her at the door and he intended to twist her arm, and we just weren't there," said jury foreman Susan Cline.

Meanwhile, prosecutors stand by their decision to prosecute Dr. Brown.

"Our concern is that we hope there are not any other victims in the future and that's why we are here today -- to make sure that nobody is abused or has to be abused by Michael Brown," said Harris County Assistant DA Jane Waters. "That's why we tried this case to hold him accountable for his behavior. We are disappointed in the verdict, but we do respect the jury's verdict."

Interestingly, our legal analyst felt this case was going to be a not guilty verdict because the defense had requested the judge do the sentencing, and that the jury only had to decide if Brown was guilty or not guilty. This is not that common and it is done in cases where the defense feels strongly about winning their case.

"This case should have been in family court; this case had no business in the criminal courts," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

A GPS device was removed from Brown's ankle that had been a condition of his bond. After cutting off the device, DeGuerin called today, "the first day to (Brown) getting his life back."

The Browns are separated and are still headed for divorce court.


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