Aug. 24, 2007 -- Former astronaut Lisa Nowak apologized to Colleen Shipman, the Air Force captain and romantic rival she allegedly assaulted and tried to kidnap after the two became involved in a love triangle and were rivals for astronaut Bill Oefelein's affection.
"I would like her to know how very sorry I am about having frightened her in any way and about the subsequent public harassment that has besieged all of us," Nowak said.
Nowak, speaking publicly for the first time since she was arrested in February, criticized the media for what she called a "tabloid approach" to the story and thanked her family and friends who have stood by her during what she said has been an arduous time for her. She said she has no plans to give any future interviews or statements on her case.
"The past six months have been very difficult for me, my family, and others close to me," Nowak said. "I've been both shocked and overwhelmed at the media coverage."
"Life may change suddenly, but there can be a lot of good yet to be accomplished. I don't know yet how to do that or if the final outcome of this [trial] will allow it," she added.
Nowak spoke Friday afternoon following a pretrial hearing in Orlando, Fla., where her lawyer tried to have both Nowak's testimony to police after she was arrested and the evidence that was seized from her vehicle declared inadmissible at trial.
She appeared in court wearing a dark suit and coiffed hair, a departure from her frazzled look in the mug shot the public has come to know her by.
At the hearing Nowak took the stand to ask Circuit Court Judge Marc L. Lubet for permission to remove the ankle bracelet that monitors her movement. But Shipman, in her own testimony today, told the judge she is still scared of Nowak and wants her to remain in the monitoring device.
The evidence laid out by the prosecution paints a picture of a woman who made a long drive from Houston to Orlando to confront another woman who was dating the man she had been seeing for three years.
In her statement to police, Nowak admits dressing in a disguise and spraying pepper spray into Shipman's car, but she said she only wanted to talk to Shipman, not harm her.
Nowak is a brilliant, talented Navy pilot, the mother of three children, and an astronaut who performed well during her one and only mission, according to colleagues. Friends describe her as very private and very shy, which makes her fall from grace even more startling.
Nowak's lawyer, Don Lykkebak, tried to have his client's statement dismissed on the grounds that after the interrogating police detective, Chris Becton, read Nowak her Miranda rights, he did not ask her if she was willing to speak with police before he took her testimony. Becton did ask Nowak if she was willing to speak before he read her the rights. But Becton said Lykkebak was misinterpreting the statement.
Nowak and Shipman both took the stand concerning the ankle bracelet Nowak wears that is designed to protect Shipman from her.
"Yes I can honestly say I will not go to Brevard County," where Shipman lives, if the bracelet is removed, Nowak told the judge today. She testified that her Navy job requires her to stay in shape, but that the bracelet prevents her from performing certain exercises including swimming.
But Shipman resisted Nowak's plea, telling the judge that knowing Nowak is wearing the bracelet is a source of comfort to her.
"When I'm home alone and there's nobody there with me, it is a comfort,'' Shipman said.
Lykkebak also argued that the seizure of evidence from Nowak's car was illegal because Becton did not properly obtain a search warrant or permission from Nowak.
The items seized from her car will be tough to explain. A 2-pound drilling hammer, a BB gun, an 8-inch folding knife, rope and latex gloves, and the diapers that made her fodder for the late-night comics.
ABC News interviewed Lykkebak and asked him about the diapers Nowak allegedly wore during her drive to Orlando so that she would not have to stop to use the bathroom. Lykkebak said the diaper story is nonsense.
"She did not pull on a pair of adult diapers in Houston and drive nonstop to Orlando. … It's not true. It's a lie. She didn't have that type of diaper in her car. She is the mother of two young twins and she had pull-on pampers that fit a 3-year-old toddler in her car. … They don't fit on an adult."
In an interview with ABC News, Lykkebak believes his client is being unfairly prosecuted because she was an astronaut when she was arrested.
"I think she's being picked on because she, in fact, is a person who is an achiever, because she is someone who has really risked her life for her country and has been a hero. You know we love to take and put people on a pedestal only to tear them down, and that's what I feel is happening here."
He is considering using the video recently released by the courts of Nowak in a holding cell at Orlando International Airport to demonstrate her state of mind at the time of her arrest.
The video shows her repeatedly pacing around the small cell. "I guess I didn't think there was anything to get caught. I just wanted to talk to her. I just thought once we talked she'd understand why I was there," she says in an uncertain voice as she stands at the doorway of her cell. "I didn't want her to run off as soon as she saw me."
Nowak asks officers whether she can make a phone call about her children. Officers refuse, but offer to make the call for her. She says no.
At the end of the video, it is evident that she is falling apart emotionally. She lies on the floor in a fetal position, her back against the door. "Do you know where you are? What city you're in?" one officer asks. Her response is inaudible. "You seem like you're kind of out of it," he says. "I've been awake for a long time," she says, nearly in tears.
Nowak was fired as an astronaut a month after her arrest. Oefelein, the astronaut in the middle, was also fired as an astronaut. Both have been returned to duty with the Navy.
Nowak is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 24.