Orlando, Fla. Lisa Nowak faced her romantic rival in court Friday during a tense day in the NASA love triangle case that was capped with the ex-astronaut apologizing to the other woman for "frightening her in any way."
It was their first exchange of words and looks since Nowak was arrested and charged with trying to pepper spray and kidnap Colleen Shipman after a frantic 1,000-mile drive to confront her over their shared feelings for another astronaut.
"The past six months have been very difficult for me, my family and others close to me," a halting Nowak said after a five-hour hearing in which her attorneys sought to remove the ankle bracelet that tracks her movements and block some of the evidence collected during her arrest.
"I know that it must have also 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 about the subsequent public harassment that has besieged all of us."
Shipman had her attorney read a statement during the hearing and hadn't planned to speak, but Nowak's attorneys persuaded Circuit Judge Marc L. Lubet to make her testify.
Speaking firmly and tersely, Shipman, an Air Force captain, said she is afraid of Nowak and that the anklet is one of the only things that makes her feel safe.
"When I'm home alone and there's nobody there with me, it is a comfort," Shipman said.
Under questioning from Nowak attorney Donald Lykkebak, Shipman acknowledged that she had visited her boyfriend in Nowak's hometown of Houston several times since Nowak's arrest. She didn't say if that boyfriend was space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, who had a romantic relationship with both women.
Nowak, a 44-year-old mother of three who has been dismissed by NASA, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault in the February confrontation in an Orlando International Airport parking lot.
She is free on $25,500 bail, though the tracking anklet is a condition of her release, and the Navy captain and pilot says it's bulky, uncomfortable and expensive, the weekly rental rate of $105 reaching $3,000 so far.
She also claims it has prevented her from exercising as she's required as a military officer.
Nowak promised to abide by all court orders if the device is removed, including not having contact with Shipman.
The judge did not rule Friday, saying another hearing will be necessary on the anklet and other issues.
Testimony also addressed whether Nowak wore diapers to avoid stopping while driving straight from Houston to Orlando. Astronauts use them on shuttle missions, and that detail has made Nowak a punchline on comedy shows and around the world.
In June, Lykkebak called it "the biggest lie in this preposterous tale," and criticized the media for circulating the story.
Lykkebak never mentioned it Friday, but Orlando police Detective William Becton reiterated that he found three dirty diapers rolled up in a garbage bag in the ex-astronaut's BMW.