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South Boston man pleads not guilty in parking space scuffle

A South Boston man accused of fighting with a neighbor over a parking space was not the aggressor, his attorney said today.

Juan Beltran-Rivera, 32, pleaded not guilty this morning in South Boston Municipal Court to assault and battery on a person over the age of 60. Bail was set at $1,000 cash.

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The attack allegedly occurred on Mercer Street in the Old Colony housing development, when Beltran-Rivera parked his car around 3:45 p.m. The victim pulled up in a car and told Beltran-Rivera he had paid someone to shovel out the space and insisted that Beltran-Rivera move his vehicle, police said.

The two argued and Beltran-Rivera punched the man in the face, possibly breaking his jaw, police said.

Defense attorney James Hayes said in court today that Beltran-Rivera parked in a spot marked for visitors. He also said that when Beltran-Rivera said he was not going to move his car, the victim twice grabbed him. When the victim grabbed Beltran-Rivera the second time, the defense attorney said, “He thought he was being assaulted and he acted accordingly.”

The attorney also said that during the confrontation the victim called Beltran-Rivera, who is Hispanic, a racial epithet and spat on his car.

“I understand that putting a lawn chair in South Boston is nearly as good as a deed, but you just can’t claim the spot,” said the attorney.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Burke said the case was still under investigation. According to court records, Beltran-Rivera has been arrested twice before for marijuana possession in South Boston. The charges were ultimately dismissed after he stayed out of trouble for a period of time set by the court.

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