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No wak

Or a TOTAL wacko?

 

 

Only because NASA officials wasted tons of taxpayer dollars to fly T-38's all around the country in defense of this nut job, she was released on bail for a crime for which the bail for the ordinary man would have been HUNDREDS of times greater, and never even brought to trial because of manipulation of the law, witnesses, and jurists by NASA.

 

Lisa Marie Nowak (née Caputo) (born May 10, 1963) is a United States naval officer and a former NASA astronaut.[1] Born in Washington, DC, she was selected by NASA in 1996 and qualified as a mission specialist in robotics.[1] Nowak flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery during mission STS-121 in July 2006.[1] She was responsible for operating the robotic arms of the shuttle and the International Space Station.[1]

Nowak gained international attention on February 5, 2007, when she was arrested in Orlando, Florida, and subsequently charged with the attempted kidnapping of U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, the girlfriend of astronaut William Oefelein.[2] Nowak was released on bail, pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested a jury trial. Nowak's assignment to the space agency as an astronaut was terminated by NASA effective March 8, 2007. She is scheduled to stand trial on December 7, 2009 on charges of attempted kidnapping, burglary with an assault, and battery.[3][4]

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Early life and education

Lisa Nowak is the daughter of Alfredo and Jane Caputo of Rockville, Maryland.[1] She first became interested in the space program when she was six years old, watching the Apollo moon landings. Nowak followed the space shuttle program, particularly the introduction of women astronauts, while she was growing up. She graduated from Charles W. Woodward High School in Rockville, Maryland, in 1981, and received a BS degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985.[1] Nowak received a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, and a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1992 from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.[1]

[edit] Military career

Nowak received her commission from the U.S. Navy in 1985, and became a Naval Flight Officer via the Tactical Navigation syllabus at Training Squadron 86 (VT-86) at NAS Pensacola, Florida in 1987. She was assigned to Electronic Warfare Aggressor Squadron 34 at Point Mugu, California, where she flew in EA-7L and ERA-3B aircraft, supporting the fleet in small and large-scale exercises with jamming and missile profiles.[1] In 1993, she was selected for both Aerospace Engineering Duty, and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River.[1] After graduating from the Naval Postgraduate School, Nowak stayed at Patuxent River working as an aircraft systems project officer at the Air Combat Environment Test and Evaluation Facility and at Strike Aircraft Test Squadron, flying in the F/A-18 and EA-6B. Nowak was then assigned to the Naval Air Systems Command, working on acquisition of new systems for naval aircraft, when she was selected for the astronaut program.[1] She has logged over 1,500 hours of flight in over 30 different aircraft during her career in the Navy, and currently holds the rank of Captain.[1]

[edit] NASA career

Lisa Nowak during astronaut training in 2005.

Nowak was selected to be an astronaut in 1996 and entered the NASA Astronaut Corps at Johnson Space Center in August of that year.[1] She qualified as a mission specialist in robotics, and was assigned to mission STS-118. After schedule changes, she instead went into space on July 4, 2006 as a member of the STS-121 crew to the International Space Station. Nowak served as mission flight engineer, operated the shuttle's robotic arm during several spacewalks, and logged almost 13 days in space.[1]

On February 6, 2007, following an arrest in Florida for attempted kidnapping, she was placed on 30-day leave by NASA.[3] She returned to Houston, Texas on a commercial airline flight the next day and reportedly was taken immediately under police escort to the Johnson Space Center for medical and psychiatric evaluation. Nowak's assignment to NASA as a serving naval officer was terminated by the space agency on March 7, 2007.[3][5][6]

[edit] After NASA

Nowak remains on active duty with the US Navy and was subsequently ordered to work on the staff of the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, where she is involved in development of flight training curricula for broad use throughout the Navy.[7] Naval officials are waiting for her kidnapping case to be resolved before taking further action.[8] Military law experts state that while the Navy rarely brings charges against officers for adultery, it is seen as conduct unbecoming an officer, and demonstrates bad judgment.[9]

On June 5, 2007, Nowak was awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal at Johnson Space Center, Houston.[10] The Space Flight medal is awarded to any astronaut who flies aboard a United States space mission.

[edit] Personal

Nowak married Richard T. Nowak, a classmate at both the Naval Academy and Navy flight school, in 1988.[11] Richard Nowak is employed by a NASA contractor at Johnson Space Center.[12] The Nowaks have three children, a son born in 1992 and twin daughters born in 2001.[13] A statement from the family indicated that the Nowaks separated in January 2007[14] and have subsequently divorced.[15] Her reported hobbies have included reading, running, piano, gardening, skeet shooting, gourmet cooking, rubber stamp collecting and crossword puzzles.[1]

Immediately after Oefelein's divorce, he and Nowak became involved with each other. Their affair lasted two years, and then Oefelein began to break it off gradually near the end of 2006 while starting a relationship with Colleen Shipman, who was working as an engineer with the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.[16][17][18]

[edit] Charges of attempted kidnapping at Orlando Airport

According to police reports, Nowak drove from Houston, Texas USA to Orlando, Florida, USA on February 4–5, 2007. She had packed latex gloves, a black wig, a BB pistol and ammunition, pepper spray, a hooded tan trench coat, a 2-pound drilling hammer, black gloves, rubber tubing, plastic garbage bags, about US$585 in cash, her computer, an 8-inch (20 cm) Gerber folding knife and several other items before driving the 900 miles (1,400 km) to Florida. Early police reports indicated that she used diapers during the trip but she later vehemently denied wearing them.[19][20] On February 5, 2007, Nowak went to the Orlando International Airport, waited for about an hour in the baggage claim, and then proceeded to the airport parking lot, where she located and confronted Colleen Shipman, who had just arrived from Houston by plane.[21]

According to police reports, Shipman said that upon arriving, she was aware of someone following her to a satellite parking area.[citation needed] When she got into her car, she heard running steps and quickly locked the door. Nowak slapped the window and tried to open the car door, asked for a ride, then started crying. Shipman rolled down the window a couple of inches after which Nowak sprayed the pepper spray into the car. Shipman drove off to the parking lot booth where police were summoned. Several Orlando Police Department officers arrived minutes later, with the first officer observing Nowak throwing a bag into the trash at a parking shuttle bus stop.

On February 5, 2007, Nowak was arrested at Orlando International Airport on charges of attempted kidnapping, battery, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, and destruction of evidence.[2][22][23] Nowak was detained and subsequently arrested.[24] In a handwritten request for a protective order against Nowak after her arrest, Shipman referred to Nowak as an acquaintance of a boyfriend but did not identify Oefelein, and also claimed Nowak had been stalking her for two months.[25] Nowak told investigators she was involved in a relationship with fellow astronaut Oefelein which she described as being "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship." Citing evidence of elaborate planning, disguises and weapons, police recommended she be held without bail.[25][26][27][28]

[edit] Arraignment

Two fellow astronauts flew to Florida in NASA T-38 Talon jets to assist authorities and NASA personnel as needed:[29] Christopher Ferguson, the senior Naval Officer in the NASA Astronaut Corps, went as Nowak's commanding officer, and retired Air Force Colonel Steve Lindsey, who was the commander of Nowak's shuttle mission, STS-121, went as Chief of the Astronaut Office, the senior astronaut at NASA. On February 6, 2007, both appeared before a judge on her behalf. The state attorney argued that the facts indicated a well-thought-out plan to kidnap and perhaps to injure Ms. Shipman.[2] While arguing for pre-trial release Nowak's attorney remarked, “One’s good works must count for something.” Nowak was ordered released on $15,500 bail under the condition she wear a GPS tracking device and not contact Shipman.[30]

Before Nowak could be released, however, Orlando police charged Nowak with attempted first-degree murder and announced she would not be released on bail. Her lawyer alleged that police and prosecutors, unhappy that Nowak had been granted bail, pressed more serious charges solely to keep her confined to jail.[31] In the second arraignment Nowak was charged with attempted first degree murder with a deadly weapon, for which the judge raised bail by $10,000. After posting bail, Nowak was released from jail.[27] Shipman dropped her request for a protection order on February 15.[32]

[edit] Reactions

There was widespread reaction to Nowak's arrest with concerns expressed about NASA's astronaut selection and screening process and planned 30-month missions to Mars.[33][34] Some indicated that NASA's presentation of astronauts as heroes is part of the problem because of the social pressure it brings to bear on them.[35] Some perceived her treatment in the criminal process as lenient.[36] Others have been shocked that her misfortunes have been the subject of parody.[37][38][39]

NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin commissioned an independent panel, the NASA Astronaut Health Care System Review Committee, to examine how well NASA attended to the mental health of its astronauts. The initial report released by the panel raised questions in regards to possible alcohol use prior to flight.[40] However, the report offered no specifics, no facts to substantiate the claims, and stated that no attempt to confirm or investigate the allegations had been performed.[41][42][43]

Shuttle commander Scott J. Kelly was vocal in his criticism of the report during interviews prior to STS-118, stating that it was beyond his comprehension that astronauts would ever consider what was suggested.[42] Following the release of the independent panel report, NASA ordered an internal review, The Space Flight Safety Review.[43]

On August 29, 2007, Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officer Bryan O'Connor reported that after the month-long review, NASA found that there was no evidence to verify the independent panel's report that astronauts have been allowed to fly drunk.[41][44][45] Additionally, investigation into all incident reports dating from 1984 to 2007, found no incident involving alcohol or drug use.[46] The report's findings specifically stated:

The culture of professionalism in today’s astronaut corps, along with the highly visible, structured and supervised schedule during the last several days prior to launch, provide reasonable controls to avoid flying an alcohol-impaired crewmember. In light of all the other controls in place on launch day, the L-0 flight surgeon check provides a reasonable likelihood of identifying signs of illness or impairment of the level that would threaten flight safety.[46]

In response to the internal review, policies at NASA would be changed in a variety of ways: Flight surgeons would be present during the pre-mission suit-up activities, flight surgeons would receive additional training in psychiatric evaluation, and although there was an unofficial code of conduct in place, an official "Code of Conduct" would be written up for employees.[46]

[edit] Evidence released before trial

On April 10, 2007, Florida prosecutors released additional material in the case. The previous week, the trial judge had agreed to unseal some of the documents that described items found in Nowak's car after her arrest. Among these items were a handwritten note on USS Nimitz stationery listing Shipman's flight information and "Flight Controller's Log" paper with a handwritten list of more than 24 items, including sneakers, plastic gloves, contacts, cash, an umbrella, and black sweats. A floppy disk contained two photographs of Nowak riding in a bicycle race, and fifteen images depicting an unidentified woman in different stages of undress. An evidence report dated March 15 indicated that nearly all of the photographs and drawings depicted bondage scenes.[47] Also found was $585.00 (USD), and 41.00 GBP in cash, and four brown paper towels with 69 orange pills that were not publicly identified. Investigators also examined two USB drives found in the car. They contained family pictures, digital movies, and NASA-related materials. Investigators concluded that the information on the disk and USB drives did not have any direct relationship to the alleged kidnapping attempt.[48]

Oefelein reportedly provided Nowak with a cell phone to communicate with him. Phone records show that she called him at least 12 times, and sent 7 text messages the day after he returned from his shuttle flight on December 22, but he did not pick up until December 24, when they had a seven-minute conversation. During December and January, over 100 calls were recorded, although it is unclear who called whom. Under questioning by NASA and military investigators, Oefelein reportedly stated that he had broken off the relationship with Nowak, but he had her to lunch in his apartment at least once in January, and they continued to train for a bicycle race, as well as go to the gym together.[49][50]

On May 11, 2007, authorities released a surveillance video from the Orlando International Airport terminal purporting to show Nowak waiting for nearly an hour, standing near the baggage claim, then donning a trench coat and later following Shipman after she retrieved her bags.[51]

[edit] Ongoing case

On February 13, 2007, Nowak entered a written plea of not guilty to the charges of attempted murder and attempted kidnapping. On March 2 Florida prosecutors filed three formal charges against Nowak: (1) attempted kidnapping with intent to inflict bodily harm or terrorize, (2) burglary of a conveyance with a weapon, and (3) battery.[52] The prosecutors declined to file the attempted murder charge which had been recommended by Orlando police. Nowak formally entered a plea of not guilty in relating to the kidnapping charges on March 22 at an arraignment hearing although she was not present in person. Nowak's attorney, who filed the plea with the Orange County court, requested a jury trial. The trial was originally due to commence on July 30, 2007, but was postponed until April 7, 2008 to allow the prosecution time to prepare for an anticipated insanity defense. On January 16, 2008, a judge postponed the trial, as well as the pretrial hearing to be held on March 12, 2008 indefinitely, pending the outcome of the state's appeal of an earlier decision to suppress evidence obtained on the day of her arrest.[53][54] A pre-trial hearing was held on July 17, 2007, and further hearings were to be held on September 19, to argue defense motions to suppress some of the evidence obtained on the day of her arrest.[49][55][56]

On August 12, 2007 Nowak asked to have her GPS ankle bracelet removed,[57] which the judge agreed to on August 30.[58] On August 28, the trial judge unsealed a court document indicating that Nowak intended to pursue an insanity defense. Her lawyer stated that she suffered from major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia, and "brief psychotic disorder with marked stressors" at the time of the incident.[59]

On November 2, 2007, the trial judge ruled to suppress Nowak's initial (pre-Miranda) statements to police, as well as all evidence found in her vehicle, citing police misconduct in their initial search and questioning.[60] The prosecution appealed that ruling on November 8. A hearing on that appeal occurred on October 21, 2008.[61][62][63]

On December 5, 2008, the Fifth District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida held that her statements were taken in violation of Miranda, but that the search of her car was still valid under the inevitable discovery exception to the search warrant requirement because the police would have inevitably found it in the normal course of the investigation despite her illegal statement. The case was sent back for trial. A pretrial status hearing has been scheduled for June 22, 2009. On April 1, 2009, the judge ordered Nowak to undergo two psychiatric evaluations before June 12, 2009.[64][65]

On May 15, 2009, it was reported that Nowak would not claim insanity if her case ever went to trial. Nowak’s attorney withdrew a previous motion filed in 2007 which would have left open the opportunity to use an insanity defense in the case.[15]



 

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Modified Monday, September 14, 2009

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