The neighbor who has admitted to assaulting U.S. Senator Rand Paul outside his Bowling Green home made his first court appearance Thursday.
Rene Boucher pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor fourth degree assault charge in Warren District Court.
Boucher told police he attacked Paul from behind while the Republican lawmaker was mowing his yard last week. Speculation has been rampant about what prompted the physical altercation.
A family friend previously told WKU Public Radio that the alleged assault was likely related to property and that Boucher had expressed anger about not being able to sell his home because of the trees on Paul’s property.
On Thursday, Boucher's attorney Matt Baker backed up those claims. In an interview with NBC News, Baker was asked if the attack was about a "messy yard."
"I'm ... yeah," Baker acknowledged. "It's not about politics. It's not about Democrat or Republican or liberal or conservative. It's just ... two neighbors who, uh, view their ... well, who view their yard work and I guess if you used Sen. Paul's word, their property rights, a little differently."
Baker added that property issues between Paul and Boucher have gone on for "a long time."
"It's a pretty nice neighborhood," Baker commented. "I think folks take the appearance of their home out there they're meticulous, and without disparaging our senator, he's not as meticulous as everybody else might be out there."
In an interview with WKU Public Radio, a board member of the Homeowners Association in the Rivergreen subdivision where Paul lives, said he wasn't aware of a history of property disputes between the two neighbors and that no complaints had been filed by either party.
Baker acknowledged that he has been contacted by a personal injury lawyer on behalf of Senator Paul, but didn't elaborate. Senator Paul is still recovering from injuries that he says include six broken ribs and fluid around his lungs.
Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken is prosecuting the case and says Boucher remains free on bond under certain conditions.
"Bond conditions include a thousand foot stay-away, a 200 feet stay-away if he's at his home," Milliken explained after the hearing. "He may possess no weapons of any kind. He's not allowed to use alcohol or drugs, and also cannot have any violations of the law."
If convicted on the assault charge, Boucher could spend up to a year in jail.
Milliken acknowledge the retired anesthesiologist could face additional charges based on the extent of Senator Paul’s injuries.
"Perhaps," stated Milliken. "Both the FBI and Kentucky State Police are continuing their investigation."