ORLANDO, Fla. – Former astronaut Lisa Nowak nodded consent for police to search her car after she allegedly confronted a romantic rival, and she appeared in control during a marathon interview with police, a detective testified Wednesday.
Nowak was in court to ask a judge to throw out evidence against her, including the five-hour police interview and evidence found in the car. Her attorney argues that she did not consent to the search and was not advised of her rights before questioning.
Detective Chris Becton described Nowak as a cunning subject who tried wheedling information from police.
"I would ask her a question. She would either completely and totally avoid the question I was asking or she would ask another question," he said. "It led me to believe that I was dealing with someone who was extremely intelligent, very controlled, and basically smarter than I was."
Nowak, 44, was arrested in February after allegedly confronting Colleen Shipman, the girlfriend of a former space shuttle pilot Nowak had been seeing. Authorities say Nowak stalked Shipman at the Orlando airport and tried to get into her car, then attacked her with pepper spray. Shipman was able to drive away.
Nowak's trial is scheduled to begin April 7, and her attorney, Donald Lykkebak, is expected to use a temporary insanity defense, saying Nowak suffered from major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and "brief psychotic disorder with marked stressors."
In court Wednesday, Lykkebak said Nowak was frantic and exhausted before her interview with Becton. He said the search of Nowak's BMW, parked at an airport-area hotel, was illegal because she never signed a consent form. Becton said Nowak nodded in authorization several times and even wrote down the location for him.
Becton said another officer accompanied him and Nowak to the car so she could withdraw consent while he was searching. That never happened, Becton said.
Nowak testified at the hearing last month but had not been called to the stand during the first hour of the hearing Wednesday.
Police said Nowak had driven nearly 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando, using diapers to avoid taking breaks. Her lawyer says the diaper claim is not true. Police also that when Nowak was arrested she had a duffel bag that contained a steel mallet, a 4-inch knife and a pellet gun.
Nowak told police she just wanted to talk to Shipman to find out "where she stands" in the love triangle.
She was dismissed from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's astronaut corps a month after her arrest. The married mother of three has pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault.
Circuit Court Judge Marc L. Lubet previously approved a defense request to remove Nowak's GPS ankle monitoring bracelet, despite Shipman's opposition.