Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was hospitalized in November with broken ribs and bruised lungs after his next-door neighbor tackled him on his own lawn. The bizarre, extreme nature of the violence between the two older men in an affluent Kentucky suburb sparked immediate speculation: What could have caused this neighbor to become so blinded by rage?
Now, as the neighbor, retired anesthesiologist Rene Boucher, has admitted guilt and is requesting a sentence of probation instead of prison time, more details have emerged about their feud.
In a 10-page memorandum filed Friday and obtained by the Bowling Green Daily News, Boucher’s attorney argued that the prosecution’s request of 21 months in prison was too severe, given Boucher’s reputation as a “pillar of his community” and the isolated nature of the offense.
The memorandum describes a simmering anger that started in the summer of 2017 and that, as has been previously reported, dealt with a minor lawn dispute over the pruning of some trees. In the fall, that-low simmering anger grew hotter.
In September, Paul piled limbs and trimmings from shrubs in a 5-foot-high and 10-foot-long pile near the property line between them. Boucher, who called the pile “unsightly,” after several weeks moved the debris into portable dumpsters and had them taken away.
In October, Paul reconstructed the pile. A few days later, Boucher again had them hauled away. Less than 10 days later, Paul again made another pile of limbs and leaves, again in the same spot. Boucher took his beef to the Rivergreen Homeowner’s Association, but it did not help.
On Nov. 2, Boucher hit some kind of limit with his patience. He poured gasoline on the pile of debris and set it on fire. The resulting fireball gave him second-degree burns on his arms, neck, and face.
The next day, Paul, possibly underestimating the depths of his neighbor’s rage, used his lawnmower to blow leaves from his property onto Boucher’s. Then he piled on the insults: “During this process, Rand Paul stepped away from his lawnmower, gathered several branches from an adjacent pile of trash, and placed them in the exact location where the last pile had been burned just one day prior.”
Boucher tackled Paul. Boucher, according to his account, told Paul afterward that “he wanted this to stop.” Paul replied that Boucher would be getting a visit from the police.
In a statement, Paul refuted Boucher’s account of mutual antagonism. “Before Senator Paul was violently attacked from behind, he had no conversations or discussions with the attacker,” a spokesman for Paul said in a statement. “There was no ‘longstanding dispute.’ This description is untrue. It is impossible to have a dispute when no words of disagreement were ever spoken—neither immediately nor at any other time before the attack occurred. In the decade prior to the attack, Senator Paul had no contact with the attacker.”
The spokesman added that the attack should be considered a serious, pre-meditated assault that resulted in major injuries. “Any description of this attack that implies a ‘yard dispute’ justifies such violence and misses the point.”
Boucher will be sentenced on Friday.
Update, June 14, 2018 at 10:45 a.m.: This post has been updated with a statement from Sen. Rand Paul.