Archive for Sunday, December 7, 2008

Court allows diaper evidence at ex-astronaut’s trial

December 7, 2008


— Diapers, latex gloves and other items found in an ex-astronaut’s car can be used as evidence when the woman accused of driving 1,000-miles to confront a romantic rival goes to trial, an appeals court ruled.

But the three-judge panel said Friday that Lisa Nowak’s six-hour police interview after her arrest cannot be used.

Nowak has pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault. She is accused of trying to abduct Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman from the Orlando International Airport in February 2007. Nowak and Shipman were vying for the affections of the same space shuttle pilot.

A lower court judge also threw out Nowak’s comments from the interview, saying investigators took advantage of the former astronaut, who had not slept for more than 24 hours, coercing her into giving information.

“The trial court applied the correct legal standards in determining that Nowak neither waived her Miranda rights, nor voluntarily spoke with police,” the appeals panel ruled. “Consequently, the state cannot use the statements that Nowak made during her custodial interview with police as part of its direct case.”

The judges’ decision to admit the car’s contents reversed an earlier ruling. Besides the diapers, authorities found maps from Houston to the Orlando airport and a map to Shipman’s Cape Canaveral home.

A knife, mallet and a BB gun resembling a real handgun will also be allowed as evidence.

No trial date for Nowak has been set. She is free on bail.

Her attorney has said that the diapers were her children’s and that she did not wear them during her trip from Texas.

“The police used coercive tactics, and her interview was not voluntary,” her attorney, Donald Lykkebak told Florida Today in a written statement. “Captain Nowak looks forward to returning to the circuit court and defending all charges.”

He did not immediately return a phone call or e-mail sent Saturday by The Associated Press.

Nowak, a Navy captain, was dismissed from the astronaut corps after her arrest and has since been on active duty at a Navy base in Corpus Christi, Texas.


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