By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Former astronaut Nowak wants ankle monitor removed; Alleged victim says shes still afraid
Astronaut Arrested 5020058
Former astronaut Lisa Nowak testifies during a hearing at the Orange County courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Aug. 24, 2007. Nowak, accused of attacking a romantic rival, asked a judge Friday to let her remove her electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, saying that it cuts her ankle and gets in the way of her military boot laces. - photo by Associated Press
    ORLANDO, Fla. — Former astronaut Lisa Nowak, accused of attacking a romantic rival, asked a judge Friday to let her remove her electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, saying that it cuts her ankle and gets in the way of her military boot laces.
    Nowak promised to abide by all court orders if the GPS monitoring device is removed, including not having any contact with Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, the woman she is accused of pepper spraying in an airport parking lot.
    Shipman’s attorney fought the request.
    On the witness stand, Shipman told the judge she is still afraid of Nowak.
    ‘‘When I’m home alone and there’s nobody there with me, it is a comfort,’’ she said of the Nowak’s monitoring bracelet. She also acknowledged, however, that she had visited her boyfriend in Nowak’s hometown of Houston several times since Nowak’s arrest. She didn’t say if that boyfriend was the same shuttle pilot.
    Nowak, a 44-year-old Navy pilot, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault.
    Her attorney, Donald Lykkebak, said he planned to ask Circuit Court Judge Marc L. Lubet at the hearing Friday to throw out evidence in the case, including an interview Nowak gave to police and items found during a search of her car.
    Nowak had told the detectives that she and Shipman were vying for the affection of the same space shuttle pilot and that she confronted Shipman in an Orlando International Airport parking lot because she wanted to know ‘‘where she stands.’’
    She is accused of attacking Shipman with pepper spray and trying to jump into her vehicle. Police say Nowak also had a duffel bag with a steel mallet, 4-inch knife and a BB gun.
    Lykkebak contends police searched Nowak’s car without her permission or a warrant. He said in additional court filings that she gave the interview under duress — after being held for three hours, deprived of sleep and a phone call and unadvised of her constitutional rights. The interview persisted, Lykkebak said, despite Nowak saying ‘‘Should I have a lawyer?’’ three times.
    Orlando police Detective William Becton testified that he informed Nowak of her rights. He said she never asked for an attorney but did ask him four times if he thought she needed one.
    The interview was like a ‘‘chess game,’’ Becton said. He said Nowak bargained with information, like her car’s whereabouts.
    ‘‘I realized I was dealing with somebody who was more intelligent than I was, more educated,’’ Becton said. ‘‘I was having a very difficult time gaining any information from her.’’
    Nowak’s main interest during the interview seemed to be how much Shipman knew, he said.
    ‘‘There are chunks of the interview, if not large portions, where I’m actually the one being interviewed by her,’’ Becton said. ‘‘She was very calculating and methodical in the manner in which she would answer my questions.’’
    Becton also mentioned diapers, which made Nowak a joke on comedy shows and around the world.
    He said Nowak told him she urinated in them on the 1,000-mile drive from Houston to Orlando to limit stops; Astronauts use diapers during space shuttle missions. Lykkebak said it wasn’t true and that the baby diapers had been left in the car after a hurricane evacuation.
    Nowak herself planned to give her first public statement about what happened after the hearing, he said.
    During questioning about the monitoring bracelet, Nowak said it was bulky and painful, and has kept her out of public places fearing its alarm. She said it also interferes with her ability to exercise — a requirement for a Navy officer, and inhibits her ability to drive.
    ‘‘I can do weights. I don’t have other suitable aerobic exercises,’’ Nowak said. ‘‘There’s no specific exercise required, but staying shape is a requirement of the military.’’
    Nowak also said she has to change the batteries every 12-15 hours — at least twice a day. She pays for the bracelet, which costs $105 a week and about $3,000 so far.
    Assistant state attorney Pamela Davis suggested Nowak could do other exercises, and has been able to bathe despite the inconvenience. She also dismissed the cost as an issue.
    ‘‘You’re paying a media consultant — fire the consultant,’’ she told Nowak.
    Kepler Funk, an attorney for Shipman, called the bracelet the most important condition of Nowak’s freedom.
    ‘‘She is scared of Ms. Nowak,’’ Funk said of his client. ‘‘Right now there is probable cause to believe Ms. Nowak committed a crime against Ms. Shipman that’s punishable by life in prison. ... The only comfort she’s had for the past six months is knowing that someone has been monitoring Ms. Nowak’s every move.’’

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter