Federal appeals court upholds prison sentence for Omaha man who pointed laser at airliner

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OMAHA, Nebraska — A federal appeals court has upheld the two-year prison sentence for a 31-year-old Omaha man convicted of aiming a laser pointer at a jetliner.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected Michael Smith's defense that he didn't believe the laser would reach the airliner, saying federal law doesn't require prosecutors to show he intended to hit the aircraft.

Smith is the first person convicted in Nebraska under the federal law signed by President Barack Obama in February 2012 making it a crime to aim laser beams at aircraft or its flight path.

Police say they found Smith in his backyard on July 11, 2012, pointing a laser at a plane shortly after an airline pilot reported a laser being beamed into his cockpit as he was landing.

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