BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Senator Rand Paul’s longtime neighbor pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he assaulted the Kentucky Republican while the senator was mowing his lawn.
Rene Boucher only spoke to reply ‘‘yes sir’’ to a judge during a brief arraignment. He showed no emotion and kept his head down.
Boucher faces up to a year in jail if convicted of fourth-degree assault.
Paul, who was not at the hearing, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that he suffered six broken ribs and has excess fluid around his lungs. The injuries have sidelined Paul from the Senate.
A prosecutor said after court that criminal charges may change because of the severity of the lawmaker’s injuries.
Warren County prosecutor Amy Milliken said her office was working with Kentucky State Police and the FBI.
Boucher’s lawyer, Matt Baker, said the possibility of a federal charge ‘‘is a concern.’’
‘‘I hope that that doesn’t happen,’’ Baker said. ‘‘And the research that I have done thus far would indicate that there’s no applicability of the federal statute that appears to address the issue.’’
He said that he’s still investigating the cause of the attack.
‘‘It has nothing to do with politics,’’ Baker said. ‘‘It’s a property dispute between two neighbors.’’