Court Denies Ex-Astronaut's Request to End Probation
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.
Credit: NASA

Considering objections from Lisa Nowak's victim, an Orlando judge Monday denied the former astronaut's request to terminate her probation for attacking a fellow military officer over a mutual love interest.

According to documents from the Ninth Circuit Court, Nowak was eligible for termination once she reached the halfway mark of her one-year probation period. But the judge instead loosened her sentence to administrative probation, which does not require the Navy captain to report to a probation officer.

Florida law says administrative probation is reserved for a defendant who "represents a low risk of harm to the community."

In a May 11 letter to Judge Marc Lubet, Colleen Shipman, the romantic rival whom Nowak attacked in February 2007, expressed a "wholehearted objection" to the motion and described her lingering fear of the naval officer.

"I believe Captain Nowak's request to be quite arrogant considering the premeditated and malicious nature of her crime," wrote Shipman, who added that Nowak's court-ordered "sincere letter of apology" was not sincere. "I believe 100% that Captain Nowak came to Orlando to kill me."

Under a plea agreement last year, Nowak pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony of burglary of a conveyance and to a misdemeanor battery charge for driving from Houston and confronting Shipman at Orlando International Airport. Angry that Shipman had begun dating former shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, Nowak fired pepper spray into Shipman's parked vehicle, police said.

In November, Lubet ordered Nowak to complete one year of probation, 50 hours of community service and an anger-management course. Donald Lykkebak, Nowak's Orlando attorney, said his client had fulfilled the ancillary requirements and that there had never been an incident during her probationary period.

Orange County Assistant State Attorney Pamela Davis, however, told the judge that Nowak's time on probation was not "an indicator of future behavior" and that "she is completely unpredictable."

In his ruling Monday, Lubet renewed restrictions against Nowak — who is stationed at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas — from traveling to California or Alaska. She also is not permitted to contact Shipman or Oefelein, who live together in Anchorage, Alaska.

"I pray for the court's continued protection from Lisa Nowak," Shipman wrote in her letter to Lubet, "especially considering my upcoming wedding."

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