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Ex-astronaut gets OK to lose anklet

The judge in the assault case says Nowak has behaved well since her arrest in February.

August 31, 2007|From the Associated Press

ORLANDO, FLA. — Former astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak can remove an electronic monitoring bracelet from her ankle while she awaits trial on charges she attacked a romantic rival, a judge ruled Thursday.

Nowak had argued that the bracelet was expensive, bulky, uncomfortable and prevented her from exercising, as required of a military officer. Judge Marc L. Lubet said that those claims did not matter, but that Nowak had behaved well enough over the last seven months to remove the device.

Nowak, a Navy captain, said in a statement through her publicist: "It's a great relief not to worry about safety issues related to the batteries' life while I'm driving. I'm also really looking forward to getting back into my former aerobic fitness programs."

The woman Nowak is accused of attacking had argued to require Nowak to continue wearing the device. Colleen Shipman said she still feared Nowak, who has filed an intent to plead temporary insanity.

Nowak is still prohibited from contacting Shipman or William A. Oefelein, the former shuttle pilot both women dated, Lubet said in the order. Nowak has no reason to travel to Florida, where Shipman lives, other than court, or to Virginia, where Shipman's boyfriend lives, the judge said.

Nowak is also barred from Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., without court approval, according to the filing.

Shipman's attorney, Kepler Funk, condemned the ruling Thursday and expressed concern that the order didn't address Nowak's mental health.

"Colleen Shipman has already been victimized once by Lisa Nowak, and now it seems she is being further punished for wanting to have a relationship with William Oefelein and try, despite the attack, to lead a normal life free from fear of further violence," Funk said.

"At some points the rights of the victim to feel safe in her own home should be given significant weight."

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