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Mon, Mar 05, 2007

Astronaut In Love Averts Attempted Murder Charge

Nowak Faces Attempted Kidnapping, Other Charges

Almost a month after Lisa Nowak was arrested at an Orlando airport parking lot, Florida prosecutors formally charged her Friday with attempted kidnapping to intent to inflict bodily harm, with burglary with a weapon and battery. They did not file the attempted murder charge that had been recommended by police, reported the Associated Press.

A spokesman for Nowak's attorney declined to comment because he hadn't seen the charges. Nowak is free on bond with an ankle tracking device.

Nowak believed Colleen Shipman was romantically involved with Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, a pilot during space shuttle Discovery's trip to the space station last December, according to police and reported by ANN.

"We are pleased that the Office of State Attorney analyzed the facts and the law and was receptive to our input in deciding to formally charge Lisa Nowak," said Kepler Funk, Shipman's attorney.

Police say they found pepper spray, a BB-gun, a new steel mallet, a knife,and rubber tubing in Nowak's car.

Nowak's lawyer, Donald Lykkebak, has said she only wanted to talk to Shipman.

In a statement issued Friday, Lykkebak said, "the State's current assessment still overstates the conduct. We believe that when all the facts are closely examined, this is a very different case."

He promised a vigorous defense of Nowak's not guilty plea.

Nowak had been scheduled to be the ground communicator with the space shuttle Atlantis crew scheduled to launch on a mission to the international space station no earlier than late April.

"As of this morning, there is no change in her status and I do not have information on what her status will be when the 30-day leave is up," said NASA spokesman James Hartsfield in Houston.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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