Judge Orders Sanity Review For Ex-Astronaut
Former NASA astronaut Lisa M. Nowak participates in an exercise in the systems engineering simulator at Johnson Space Center for her STS-121 mission in 2006.
A Circuit Court judge in Orlando ordered former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak to undergo two psychiatric evaluations by June 12 in anticipation of her trial on attempted kidnapping, battery and attempted burglary with assault charges.
Judge Marc Lubet issued the
order today after the state petitioned the court for an evaluation of her
sanity at the time she allegedly
attacked a romantic rival in 2007.
Investigators say Nowak drove from Johnson Space Center in Houston to Orlando International Airport to attack romantic rival Colleen Shipman on Feb. 5, 2007. Both women were vying for the affections of former astronaut William Oefelein.
Nowak and Oefelein both were fired by NASA following the incident.
Nowak ? who was wearing a disguise as she followed Shipman throughout the airport and then out to a parking lot ? admitted to police to pepper-spraying Shipman after Shipman got into her car parked in the airport?s Blue Lot.
That admission, though, was part of her statement to police, which was thrown out because Lubet ruled that detective Chris Becton did not properly read Nowak her ?Miranda rights? to silence and an attorney.
Nowak also carried with her a duffel bag that has been described by former Los Angeles homicide detective Mark Fuhrman as a ?murder kit.? Inside were a BB pistol, a 4-inch hunting knife, a rubber mallet and surgical tubing. A receipt found in the bag shows Nowak bought the gun, knife and mallet at a Sports Authority store within days before the alleged attack.
Nowak told detectives she only wanted to talk with Shipman and had brought the items as a way to force Shipman to sit with her.
Her attorney, Donald Lykkebak, had Nowak?s mental health evaluated two years ago.
Lykkebak claimed in a 2007 court filing that Nowak was suffering from a laundry list of issues, including: partner relational problem, major depressive disorder, insomnia, brief psychotic disorder with marked stressors, Asperger?s disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, loss of body mass, problems with primary support group, marital separation, problems related to social environment, inadequate social support system and inability to confide in social contacts.
Also in that court filing, Lykkebak reserved the right to use a temporary insanity defense.
At the time of the incident, Nowak had separated from her husband, Richard. She and her mother were not on speaking terms.
Astronaut Piers Sellers testified last year that Nowak had lost a considerable amount of weight between their July space mission and a December public appearance.
Police statements indicated that she never spoke to her friends or peers about her relationship with Oefelein, who divorced his wife in 2006.
Nowak must be evaluated by Dr. Wade Myers of Tampa and Dr. Gregory Prichard of Bristol, located southwest of Tallahassee. The doctors must submit their written reports to the judge, the state attorney and Nowak?s attorney by July 6.
That?s three years after Nowak worked in space aboard the shuttle Discovery, helping to repair the International Space Station and try out a new boom extension for repairs on the shuttle.
Judge Lubet also modified Nowak?s pretrial release order.
He allowed her to travel to any state except Alaska, California and Pennsylvania.
Shipman is from Pennsylvania, and public records show she and Oefelein are living together in Alaska. It was not immediately clear why the judge also excluded California.
Calls to Shipman?s attorneys and the Orange County court?s chief of due process were not returned.
Oefelein and Shipman have left military service.
Nowak remains a U.S. Navy captain, stationed at Corpus Christi, Texas. She and her husband divorced last year.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. June 22 in Orlando.
- Astronaut Biography: Lisa Nowak
- NASA, Navy, Remove Astronaut from Spaceflight Ranks
- All About Astronauts
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