Love-Triangle Astronaut's Lawyer Wants Charges Dropped

Former astronaut Lisa Nowak's attorney asked a judge today to dismiss the charges against her in an alleged assault on an Air Force captain she believed was her rival in a love triangle with a fellow astronaut.

Don Lykkebak, Nowak's attorney, filed a motion claiming the charges should be dropped because of misconduct by prosecutors and police.

Lykkebak also asked the Orange County, Florida, Circuit Court for sanctions against the police who investigated Nowak and the district attorneys who are prosecuting her, for failing to give him medical records that include a statement from the alleged victim that apparently contradict statements she gave to police.

Nowak is charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and attempted burglary with assault, after what is now an infamous incident in a parking lot at Orlando International Airport in February 2007.

Investigators say Nowak drove nearly 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando to confront Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, a woman she believed was a rival for the affections of then-astronaut Bill Oefelein.

Shipman told police Nowak attacked her with pepper spray in the airport parking lot after she returned from visiting Oefelein in Houston.

However, the portion of the medical report taken that night titled "Patient Report" states in part:

"When the [patient] was brought over to us by [Orlando Police Department], she stated that she just wanted to wash her hands and did not want to go to the hospital. The [patient] denied any direct contact with the pepper spray and was not experiencing any burning sensations or any medical problems."

The account in the medical records contradicts the statement Shipman made that night to investigators, and the statement she later gave to police.

If there was no pepper spray used that night, Lykkebak said he believes it changes the nature of the incident in the parking lot.

"The police made a mountain out of a molehill in this case and now we have learned there was never a molehill to start with," he said in a statement released today.

Nowak's criminal case has been on hold since November 2007, when Judge Marc Lubet ruled that Orlando Police Det. Chris Becton had not properly read Nowak her Miranda rights before the interrogation and had tricked her into giving officers permission to search her car.

Nowak has scored some other victories in the case, including having the lengthy confession she gave police ruled inadmissible if the case comes to trial.

However, the same court ruled last year that other evidence can be used -- including a duffel bag containing a rubber mallet, a BB gun, a four-inch hunting knife, surgical tubing and garbage bags that were all found in her car.

Also admissible is a surveillance tape that shows Nowak, in a disguise, following Shipman around the airport for several hours.

Nowak, who is divorced and has custody of her three children, works on flight training software for the Navy.

She apologized to Shipman for the incident in the parking lot, at a hearing two years ago.

"The past six months have been very difficult for me, my family, and others close to me," she said. "I know that it must have been very hard for Colleen Shipman, and I would like her to know how very sorry I am about having frightened her in any way and the subsequent public harassment that has besieged all of us."

Shipman and Oefelein now run an adventure Web site in Alaska.