Skip to main content

Ex-Astronaut's Attorney Blasts Florida State Officials

Pretrial Hearing Set for Former NASA 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. (Image credit: NASA)

An attorneyfor former astronaut Lisa Nowak filed a motion Monday in Orange-Osceola CircuitCourt, seeking sanctions against the state for failing to turn over evidence.

On Feb. 5, 2007, ColleenShipman accusedNowak of stalking her at Orlando International Airport, following her toher car, and then squirting pepper-spray inside the car as she tried to getinto the car. Both women were vying for the affections of then-astronautWilliam Oefelein.

The evidence in question isa report by Greater Orlando Aviation Authority emergency response workers, inwhich a paramedic states that Shipman "denied any direct contact with thepepper spray and was not experiencing any burning sensations or any medicalproblems."

Nowak's attorney, DonaldLykkebak, complained that this information has been known to the prosecutionfor more than two years, but the prosecution failed to give him a copy.

"The police made amountain out of a molehill in this case, and now we have learned there wasnever a molehill to start with," Lykkebak said. "It is also clearthat the State (either directly or constructively) had possession or control ofthe evidence that tends to negate the guilt of the defense, but failed tocomply with the rules in mandatorily disclosing it to the defense."

"I was gonna start tocall 9-1-1 for her, 'cause she really looked freaked out," Shipman toldinvestigators, "I was looking down to plug my phone in, 'cause it reallywas dying, and when I looked back up at her, she started spraying me withsomething."

When an investigator askedShipman if the spray got into her eyes, she answered, "I don't think itactually hit my eyeball."

After that, Shipman droveto the exit lane, where an attendant gave her wet paper towels to wipe hereyes. She also complained of a burning sensation on her skin.

Nowak was charged withattempted kidnapping, battery and attempted burglary with assault.

Nowak and Oefelein both were firedby NASA following the incident.

Randy Means, a spokesmanfor the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office, said motions arguing thatprosecutors failed to turn over discovery are common and often unsuccessful.

He did not comment on themotion's specifics, saying his office will argue its case in court.

Shipman's attorney, KeplerFunk, said Monday he had just received the six-page motion, and did not want tocomment until he had read all of it and talked with Shipman.

No hearing has been set onthe motion.

Publishedunder license from FLORIDA TODAY. Copyright ? 2009 FLORIDA TODAY. No portion ofthis material may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of FLORIDA TODAY.


Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: