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Nowak Can Remove Ankle Bracelet
Associated Press | August 31, 2007ORLANDO, Fla. - Former astronaut Lisa Nowak can remove an electronic monitoring bracelet from her ankle while she awaits trial on charges she attacked a romantic rival, a judge ruled Thursday.
Nowak had argued that the bracelet was expensive, bulky, uncomfortable and prevented her from exercising, as required of a military officer. Judge Marc L. Lubet said that those claims did not matter, but that Nowak had behaved well enough over the past seven months to remove the device.
Nowak, a Navy captain, said in a statement through her publicist: "It's a great relief not to worry about safety issues related to the batteries life while I'm driving. I'm also really looking forward to getting back into my former aerobic fitness programs."
The woman Nowak is accused of attacking had argued to require Nowak to continue wearing the device. Colleen Shipman said she still feared Nowak, who has filed an intent to plead temporary insanity.
Nowak is still prohibited from contacting Shipman or Bill Oefelein, the former shuttle pilot both women dated, Lubet said in the order. Nowak has no reason to travel to Florida, where Shipman lives, other than court, or to Virginia, where Shipman's boyfriend lives, the judge said.
Nowak is also barred from neighboring Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., without court approval, according to the filing.
Shipman's attorney, Kepler Funk, condemned the ruling in a public statement Thursday and expressed concern the order didn't address Nowak's mental health.
"Colleen Shipman has already been victimized once by Lisa Nowak, and now it seems she is being further punished for wanting to have a relationship with William Oefelein and try, despite the attack, to lead a normal life free from fear of further violence," Funk said.
"At some points the rights of the victim to feel safe in her own home should be given significant weight. In our opinion, justice requires that Lisa Nowak's aerobic fitness should not override Colleen Shipman's peace of mind."
Lubet wrote Nowak was still under previous bond of $25,500 and that the military has assured him Nowak would face additional penalties if she violated the new conditions of parole. He also noted Shipman testified going to Houston, where Nowak lives, three or four times since the incident.
"During these trips by Ms. Shipman to Houston, the electronic monitoring GPS device afforded no protection or benefit to Ms. Shipman, as the defendant could freely move about Houston with no fear of violating any condition of the electronic monitoring GPS device," Lubet wrote.
Shipman has said that she felt safe in Houston because she was with Oefelein, her boyfriend, but that the monitor is comforting when she is alone.
The bracelet cost $105 a week, Nowak said, adding that it kept her from exercising and swimming with her children. She also called it dangerous, because batteries have to be changed twice daily or a loud alarm sounds even while driving.
Nowak, 44, was arrested in February after confronting Shipman over a love triangle. The former astronaut is accused of stalking Shipman at the Orlando airport, then attacking her with pepper spray as Shipman arrived at her car.
The married mother of three is suspected of driving nearly 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando, using diapers to avoid taking breaks, to execute the attack. Police said she was carrying a duffel bag containing a steel mallet, a 4-inch knife and a BB gun.
Nowak suffered from major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and "brief psychotic disorder with marked stressors," according to the notice to plead insanity written by defense attorney Donald Lykkebak.
Lubet has asked for another hearing before deciding on Lykkebak's requests to throw out Nowak's long arrest interview with police and the search of her BMW.
Nowak told a police detective she just wanted to talk to Shipman to see where things stood.
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