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Ex-astronaut Nowak wants ankle monitor removed

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/08/24 12:47

Former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, in a bid to take off her ankle-bracelet GPS monitor, testified in an Orlando, Florida, court Friday that the device is restrictive and hazardous when she drives. Nowak, 44, is accused of assaulting her romantic rival, Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, in a parking lot at Orlando International Airport on February 5. The monitor, which Nowak said causes abrasions and is not waterproof, is intended to keep her from traveling to Brevard County, Florida, where Shipman lives.

Nowak's lawyer, Don Lykkebak, is asking 9th Circuit Court Judge Marc L. Lubet to side with his client on three motions, including the request to remove the GPS monitor. Nowak was ordered to wear it on February 6 as part of her pretrial release.

Shipman also testified in court Friday and told Lubet that she was still afraid of Nowak and felt safe knowing the monitor was in place.

When Lubet asked her, "Do you want her taken off the ankle monitor?" Shipman answered, "Absolutely not."

Nowak argued that the device is expensive and she has paid more than $3,000 for it since it was put on.

Lykkebak also is asking the judge to throw out Nowak's statements to police and suppress evidence collected from her car after the alleged incident.

The monitor, which Nowak said causes abrasions and is not waterproof, is intended to keep her from traveling to Brevard County, Florida, where Shipman lives.

Asked by her lawyer if she can assure the court she won't go near Shipman, Nowak said, "I can absolutely say that I won't go to Brevard County.

"I will abide by all the court orders ... and any additional ones they wish to put on."

Under cross-examination, Nowak admitted that she could take some form of exercise and bathe herself, and find other methods for getting around the drawbacks of the device.

Nowak said she has had to pull over twice on the highway because the battery was low. When that happens, there is a buzzing vibration, then a siren goes off, she said.

Orlando police officer William Becton testified Friday that he read former astronaut Lisa Nowak her rights.

Becton, who was with the airport's investigative unit at the time of the alleged crime, said Nowak was asked before her police interview if she wanted an attorney, and she declined.

The officer said Nowak never told him she no longer wanted to talk.

NASA ended Nowak's assignment as an astronaut in March after she allegedly assaulted Shipman, who was dating Nowak's former boyfriend Navy Cmdr. Bill Oefelein.

Nowak, a captain in the U.S. Navy, allegedly drove nearly 900 miles from Houston, Texas, to Orlando -- wearing toddler diapers to cut down on the number of stops she needed to make -- in order to confront Shipman, according to an initial police report. Her lawyer has since denied that she was wearing any type of diaper.

She was arrested in the parking lot at Orlando International Airport after Shipman claimed Nowak attacked her. Airport surveillance tapes show Nowak donning a disguise while waiting for Shipman to arrive, then following her, police said.

Shipman told police that Nowak approached her car in the airport parking lot and asked her for help with a dead battery.

"I cracked my window open about two inches and told her I'd send someone to help her," Shipman said. "She said, 'Please help me,' and then started spraying something from a skinny black can into my window.'"

Police said the can held pepper spray.

Nowak pleaded not guilty March 22 to charges of attempted kidnapping with intent to inflict bodily harm, battery and burglary of a vehicle using a weapon. The trial is to begin next month.

If convicted of the February 5 incidents, Nowak could face a sentence of up to life in prison.

Police contend Nowak gave them permission to search her car, which was parked away from the airport.

From it they seized weapons and photos inside a duffel bag, a steel mallet, a 4-inch buck knife and a loaded BB gun. They also found an alleged "plan," which was written on paper and included flight information and directions.

Police said they also found a large plastic trash bag.

"Inside the bag I saw two used diapers. I asked Ms. Nowak if the diapers were used. She said that the diapers were used," an officer said. "I then asked Mrs. Nowak why she had the baby diapers. Mrs. Nowak said that she did not want to stop and use the restroom, so, she used the diapers to collect her urine."

According to the Orange County Attorney's Office, Nowak -- while in a jail cell -- explained to authorities: "I just wanted to sit there and talk to her, and she said she wouldn't talk to me and she walked away."

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