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Ex-Astronaut Aims to Get Statement Tossed Out

Oct. 21 Court Date Set for Ex-Astronaut
Former astronaut Lisa Nowak, left, looks on along with her attorney Cheney Mason during a hearing at the Orange County courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Aug. 24, 2007.
(Image: © AP Photo/Red Huber, POOL.)

An attorney for accusedcriminal and former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, along with an assistant attorneygeneral for the state, appeared before a three-person district appeals courtpanel in Orlando this morning.

The pair were arguingwhether statementsthat Nowak made the morning of her arrest, along with evidence found in hercar, should be allowed in her trial.

A judge ruled late last year that Nowak was not properly read her Mirandarights and that she was coerced into leadingdetectives to her car, where they found maps leading from Houston toOrlando International Airport, along with directions to victim ColleenShipman's home in Cape Canaveral.

Judge Richard Orfinger asked the state if it was important for Nowak to notonly understand her rights but to knowingly wave them.

Assistant Attorney General Kellie Nielan said, "I think it's clear thatshe knew she had a right to an attorney."

No action was taken this morning, and it's unclear how long it will take thepanel to make a decision. Judge Alan Lawson siad, "I don't see in youradditional brief how the trial judge erred."

As far as evidence found in Nowak's car, several of the attorneys pointed out anygood detective would have found her car without her help because they had abrochure from the La Quinta Inn, where Nowak had left her car along with hercar keys.

Nowak's attorney Donald Lykkebak said the judges should uphold the decision bytrial Judge Marc Lubet to keep the statement and evidence found in her car outof the trial. He said "the statement is an involuntary statement,"and he said "for detective (Chris) Becton to get to where it (the car) washe had to get there through the interrogation."

Earlier story:

Former astronaut Lisa Nowakwon't be in court this morning, when her attorney argues to keep her statementto police and items found in her car off-limits at her trial.

At 9 a.m., Florida's 5thDistrict Court of Appeal will hear arguments about the case, in which Nowakallegedly tried to attack a love rival.

Authorities say Nowak drovefrom Houston to Orlando International Airport the weekend of Feb. 5, 2007, toconfront Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman about their mutual love interest,former astronaut Bill Oefelein.

In the disputed statement,Nowak admitted to police that she pepper-sprayed Shipman in the Blue Lotbecause she "just wanted to talk to her." She was wearing a trenchcoat, a short-hair wig and glasses.

Nowak was arrested minutesafter the incident at a nearby Blue Lot bus stop.

Circuit Court Judge MarcLubet threw out Nowak's statement to police and evidence from her blue BMW lastNovember, when he ruled that police had not properly read Nowak her Mirandarights. He also stated that she was coerced into allowing police to search hercar, where they found maps to guide her from Texas to Orlando InternationalAirport and to the Cape Canaveral home of her love rival, Shipman.

NASA fired Nowak andOefelein shortly afterward, and revamped its psychological screenings forpotential astronauts.

The criminal case is onhold until the appeals court makes its decision.

Published under license from FLORIDA TODAY. Copyright ? 2008FLORIDA TODAY. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any way withoutthe written consent of FLORIDA TODAY.

 

 

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