December Trial Set 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.
Credit: NASA

Florida's Orange County Circuit Court Judge Marc Lubet has set a Dec. 7 trial date for former astronaut Lisa Nowak.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 10.

Investigators say Nowak drove 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando International Airport to allegedly stalk and attack love rival Colleen Shipman in the airport's blue parking lot in the early-morning hours of Feb. 5, 2007. Nowak is charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and attempted burglary with assault.

Shipman's attorney, Kepler Funk, said he is glad the case is finally going to be heard -- nearly three years after the incident.

"The fact that it's scheduled in 2009 is encouraging," Funk said sarcastically. But he added, "I have been on both sides of wanting cases to move along faster than others, and I've had cases where they take a significant amount of time to get prepared. And I would never presume to know what (Nowak's attorney) thinks, other than I'm confident he's advocating for his client 100 percent. I don't fault him one iota. It is what it is, and we'll be there when they tell us to be there."

The scheduling came about Tuesday, when prosecutor Pam Davis and Nowak's attorney, Donald Lykkebak, both had unrelated business before Lubet, court spokeswoman Karen Levy said.

Lubet decided to handle the Nowak matter then, as well.

A previously scheduled status hearing for Friday was canceled.

Shipman told police that Nowak had pepper-sprayed her and tried to get into her car.

Nowak also carried with her a duffel bag. Inside were a BB pistol, a 4-inch hunting knife, a rubber mallet, garbage bags, latex gloves and surgical tubing. A receipt found in the bag shows Nowak bought some of the items at a Sports Authority the day she left Houston to travel to Orlando.

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 and listen.

Both women were vying for the affection of astronaut William Oefelein. NASA fired both Nowak and Oefelein following the incident.

Lykkebak filed a motion in April to dismiss the case after discovering a paramedic's report that states Shipman "denied any direct contact with the pepper spray and was not experiencing any burning sensation or any medical problems."

The paramedic arrived on the scene after Shipman already had cleaned her eyes out with a wet paper towel. She was unaware of Nowak's identity until several hours later, when a detective told her who had allegedly attacked her.

In addition, Lykkebak stated during a court hearing following Nowak's arrest that his client had pepper-sprayed Shipman.

"What we have here is a desperate woman who wants to have a conversation with another woman," Lykkebak said in court on Feb. 6, 2007. "She doesn't shoot her. She doesn't stab her. She doesn't do anything except spray her with pepper spray. She just wants to talk to her."

A hearing on the motion to dismiss the case likely will be held before the November pretrial hearing.

At the time of the incident, Nowak recently had separated from her husband, Richard. They have since divorced.

Oefelein and Shipman live together in Anchorage, Alaska, and run a freelance adventure-writing site on the Internet.

Nowak remains under court order to stay away from the couple.

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