Video: Astro-nut? staff and news service reports
updated 8/30/2007 4:08:52 PM ET 2007-08-30T20:08:52

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 last seven months to remove the device.

The woman Nowak is accused of attacking asked a court to require Nowak to continue wearing the device. Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman said she still feared Nowak.

Lubet said Nowak had no reason to contact Shipman or travel to Florida, where Shipman lives, other than to attend court, or to Virginia, where Shipman’s boyfriend lives.

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

Lubet also said the military has assured him that Nowak, a Navy captain, would face additional penalties if she violated the new parole conditions.

Nowak, 44, was arrested in February after confronting Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, the girlfriend of an astronaut Nowak had been seeing romantically, Bill Oefelein. Nowak allegedly stalked Shipman at the Orlando airport, then attacked her as Shipman arrived at her car.

Police say the married mother of three had driven nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from Houston to Orlando, using diapers to avoid taking breaks, and then pepper-sprayed Shipman while trying to get into her vehicle. Shipman was able to drive away, and Nowak was arrested. Police said she had a duffel bag with her that contained a steel mallet, a 4-inch (10-centimeter) knife and a BB gun.

Nowak was charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault and has pleaded not guilty.

She told police said she just wanted to talk to Shipman to find out “where she stands” in the love triangle. She was dismissed from the astronaut corps a month after her arrest and has a trial set for September.

At a Florida court hearing on defense motions Friday, Nowak apologized to Shipman.

In court documents released this week, Nowak's lawyers said their client may pursue a temporary insanity defense.

Nowak suffered from major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and “brief psychotic disorder with marked stressors,” defense attorney Donald Lykkebak wrote in his notice of intent to rely on the insanity defense.

He also noted that the already petite Nowak recently lost 15 percent of her body weight and struggled with “marital separation.”

“Even the most naive observer should recognize that Lisa Nowak’s behavior on February 5 was uncharacteristic and unpredicted for such an accomplished person with no criminal record or history of violence,” Lykkebak said in a separate public statement.

A spokeswoman for Nowak’s legal team said the notice of intent didn’t necessarily mean the insanity defense would be invoked. “It was just a notice to preserve that option,” Marti Mackenzie said Tuesday on MSNBC's “Live With Dan Abrams.”

This report includes information from The Associated Press and

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