Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Nowak to pursue insanity defense

Rockville native, former astronaut also asked judge to remove her ankle-monitoring device

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Just days after asking a Florida judge to free her of an electronic ankle-monitoring device and publicly apologizing to her romantic rival, Rockville native and former astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak is pursuing a temporary insanity defense.

‘‘This notice does not challenge competence to stand trial, but only raises insanity at the time of the offense,” Donald Lykkebak, Nowak’s defense attorney, wrote in the court document released Tuesday afternoon.

After the hearing to remove the ankle bracelet last week, Nowak publicly apologized to romantic rival Colleen Shipman.

The apology was Nowak’s first public statement since she was arrested Feb. 5 after she drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando, Fla., to confront Shipman and sprayed her with pepper spray, according to Orlando Police.

Nowak, a 44-year-old Navy captain, was charged in March with attempted kidnapping with intent to inflict bodily harm, burglary of a vehicle using a weapon and battery.

A written statement was not available, but according to a video of Nowak’s statement on CNN’s Web site, she said the last six months were ‘‘very difficult for me, my family and others close to me.”

‘‘I know it must have also been hard on 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,” Nowak said.

Nowak also expressed that she was ‘‘shocked,” ‘‘overwhelmed” and ‘‘dismayed” at the media coverage.

During the six-hour pre-trial hearing on Friday, Lykkebak asked Judge Marc Lubet to remove Nowak’s electronic ankle monitor. The monitor was a condition of her release on bond.

The motion to remove the ankle bracelet states that ‘‘it is an unnecessary and excessive expense” at $105 a week, totaling about $3,000 so far.

Lykkebak said the heavy bracelet inhibits Nowak’s ability to exercise, a military requirement, or take her three children swimming.

Marti Mackenzie, spokeswoman for Nowak’s attorney, said Lubet is expected to make his decision this week.

Lykkebak also asked the judge to throw out Nowak’s initial interview with police and evidence from Nowak’s car. Police reported finding a BB gun, steel mallet, knife and rubber tubing in the car.

The motion claims Detective William ‘‘Chris” Becton questioned Nowak while she was sleep deprived, without a phone call and without properly reading Nowak her ‘‘constitutional rights to remain silent or to counsel.”

Those arguments will be revisited during another hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

During last week’s hearing, Becton mentioned his discovery of used diapers in Nowak’s car. Police said Nowak claimed to have used the diapers to limit stops during her drive.

Mackenzie said the claim is ‘‘a preposterous lie” and there is no proof that Nowak wore the diapers. ‘‘She never said anything of the kind,” Mackenzie said. ‘‘She did not drive nonstop. She stayed in a motel and stopped for gas.”

Mackenzie said the diapers were used by Nowak’s toddler children and left in her car after a hurricane.

Nowak was fired by NASA in March and now works for the chief of Naval Air Training Command in Corpus Christi, Texas.