Astronaut Avoids Attempted Murder Charge
In addition to the charge of attempted kidnapping with the intent to inflict bodily harm, the Orange-Osceola County State Attorney's Office also accused Nowak, 43, of burglary with a weapon and battery, the Associated Press reports.
Nowak's attorney, Donald Lykkebak, who initially declined comment, issued a statement Friday afternoon. "After having had some time and opportunity to review the allegations originally filed by the police, the State Attorney appears to recognize that the initial charges were overreaching," the statement reads. "Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the charges now filed, the State’s current assessment still overstates the conduct.
"We believe that when all the facts are closely examined, this is a very different case. We previously filed not guilty pleas addressing all the charges, and you can be assured Lisa Nowak, by her plea, denies the charges and will defend vigorously."
In a story that gripped the nation early last month, Nowak – a married mother of a teenage son and twin 5-year-old girls and a respected astronaut who flew on the second test flight of a space shuttle after the 2003 Columbia disaster – drove 900 miles from her Texas home to the Orlando airport wearing diapers (so she would not have to stop to relieve herself) to confront Colleen Shipman, an engineer assigned to the 45th Launch Support Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base near the Kennedy Space Center, whom Nowak believed was a competitor for the affections of Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein,
Once in Florida, police say, Nowak donned a disguise, armed herself with a BB gun and pepper spray and followed Shipman to her car in the airport parking lot – and eventually sprayed her with the pepper spray. Shipman drove away to the parking lot booth, where police were called.
Nowak said that her relationship with the unmarried Oefelein was "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," according to an arrest affidavit. She also apparently believed that Shipman was romantically involved with Oefelein, authorities said. When Nowak learned Shipman was flying from Houston to Orlando, Nowak decided to confront her.
Nowak was placed on a leave of absence by NASA. She remains free on bond with an ankle-tracking device.