Court Denies Ex-Astronaut's Request to End Probation

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)

Considering objections from Lisa Nowak'svictim, an Orlando judge Monday denied the former astronaut's request toterminate her probation for attacking a fellow military officer over a mutuallove interest.

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

Florida law says administrative probation isreserved for a defendant who "represents a low risk of harm to thecommunity."

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 herlingering fear of the naval officer.

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

Under a plea agreement last year, Nowakpleaded guilty to a third-degree felony of burglary of a conveyance and to amisdemeanor battery charge for driving from Houston and confronting Shipman atOrlando International Airport. Angry that Shipman had begun dating formershuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, Nowak fired pepper spray into Shipman's parkedvehicle, police said.

In November, Lubet ordered Nowak to completeone year of probation, 50 hours of community service and an anger-managementcourse. Donald Lykkebak, Nowak's Orlando attorney, said his client hadfulfilled the ancillary requirements and that there had never been an incidentduring her probationary period.

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

In his ruling Monday, Lubet renewedrestrictions against Nowak — who is stationed at Naval Air Station CorpusChristi in Texas — from traveling to California or Alaska. She also is notpermitted to contact Shipman or Oefelein, who live together in Anchorage,Alaska.

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

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