A U.S. federal judge sentenced a 19-year-old California man to two and a half years in prison for shining a laser at a small airplane and police helicopter.
Adam Gardenhire, of North Hollywood, Calif., pleaded guilty in October to one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, the Pasadena (Calif.) Star-News reported.
On March 29, a pilot in a NetJet Cessna Citation reported a green-colored laser shined in his eye as he prepared to land at Burbank Airport, momentarily blinding him. A Pasedena police helicopter pilot then reported the laser was pointed at his aircraft when he responded to the first pilot's report of the laser.
The Los Angeles Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department and the Burbank Airport Police Department identified Gardenhire as the culprit, the Star-News reported.
Gardenhire's lawyer, Sean Kennedy, asked the court for a lighter sentence of two years probation, a fine and community service because he said his client didn't realize the strength of the laser.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Mills said Gardenhire had been warned by a friend who loaned him the laser not to shine it in anyone's eyes. Just because he didn't think about the consequences doesn't mean he's not responsible, she said.
"One can imagine a drunk driver making the same excuse -- that he just 'didn't think about the dangers' of getting behind the wheel in an impaired state. But disregarding a clear risk does not absolve one of responsibility for assuming it," Mills said.
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