November 9, 2007

Decision to Toss Astronaut Evidence Appealed

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors on Thursday appealed a judge's order to strike the arrest interview and vehicle search of former astronaut Lisa Nowak, accused of attacking a romantic rival.

Circuit Judge Marc L. Lubet agreed last week with the defense that police coerced Nowak and didn't appropriately advise her of her Miranda rights. Assistant State Attorney Pamela Davis' Thursday filing does not specify a cause for appeal.

Nowak is charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault. She has pleaded not guilty, though her attorney has filed notice of intent to use an insanity defense.

"We fully expect Judge Lubet's order to be affirmed on appeal," her attorney, Don Lykkebak, said Thursday.

The alleged incident happened in February. Authorities say Nowak stalked Colleen Shipman at an Orlando airport and tried to get into her car, then attacked her with pepper spray. Shipman, the girlfriend of former space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, was able to drive away.

The judge threw out evidence found in Nowak's BMW, including maps to Shipman's home, large garbage bags, latex gloves and some soiled toddler-sized diapers. The order did not apply to items in a bag Nowak was carrying, including a steel mallet, knife, rubber tubing and a BB gun resembling a real 9 mm.

In the six-hour arrest interview thrown out, Nowak told a detective she drove 1,000 miles from Houston to confront Shipman to see where she stands in the love triangle, and that she used the diapers to save time. She has since said the diapers had been her children's, left over from a 2005 hurricane evacuation.