ORLANDO, Fla. – Former astronaut Lisa 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 and uncomfortable. Judge Marc L. Lubet said that those claims did not matter, but that Nowak had behaved well enough over the past seven months to remove the device.
The woman Nowak is accused of attacking asked a court to require Nowak to continue wearing the device. Colleen Shipman said she still feared Nowak.
Nowak is still prohibited from contacting Shipman or Bill 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 neighboring Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., without court approval, according to the filing.
Nowak, a Navy captain, is still under the previous bond of $25,500, Lubet wrote. He also noted that Shipman testified going to Houston, where Nowak lives, three or four times since the incident.
"During these trips by Ms. Shipman to Houston, the electronic monitoring GPS device afforded no protection or benefit to Ms. Shipman, as the defendant could freely move about Houston with no fear of violating any condition of the electronic monitoring GPS device," Lubet wrote.
Shipman has said that she felt safe in Houston because she was with her boyfriend, but that the monitor is a comfort when she is alone.
Both Shipman's attorney Kepler Funk and Nowak's defense said they would issue statements later Thursday.
The bracelet cost $105 a week, Nowak said, adding that it prevented her from exercising as required of a military officer and kept her from swimming with her children. She also called it dangerous, because batteries have to be changed twice daily or a loud alarm sounds even while driving.
Nowak, 44, was arrested in February after confronting Shipman over a love triangle. The former astronaut is accused of stalking Shipman at the Orlando airport, then attacking her with pepper spray as Shipman arrived at her car.
Nowak, a married mother of three, is suspected of driving nearly 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando, using diapers to avoid taking breaks, for the attack. Police said she was carrying a duffel bag containing a steel mallet, a 4-inch knife and a BB gun. Nowak told a police detective she just wanted to talk to Shipman to see where things stood.
Nowak's defense has filed a notice of intent to pursue a temporary-insanity plea. Shipman's attorney was upset that it wasn't mentioned at a hearing last week regarding the bracelet and two defense requests to suppress evidence.