Suspect in Rand Paul assault appears in court, lawyer cites 'messy yard'

Sen. Rand Paul's neighbor appeared in court Thursday and offered no explanation for allegedly attacking the senator and breaking his ribs.

Dressed in a suit and joined by attorney Matthew Baker, Rene Boucher pleaded not guilty to a charge of fourth-degree misdemeanor assault.

Sources told NBC News that the dispute began when Paul was attacked from behind while mowing his lawn while wearing headphones.

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DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 1: Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) speaks during a caucus day rally at his Des Moines headquarters on February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Presidential hopeful was accompanied by his wife, Kelly, mother, Carol Wells and his father, former Congressman Ron Paul. Pauls were there to thank all the staff and volunteers for all their hard work in Iowa. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: U.S. President Donald Trump, right, acknowledges US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), left, prior to signing H.J. Res. 38, disapproving the rule submitted by the US Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Department of Interior's Stream Protection Rule, which was signed during the final month of the Obama administration, 'addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites,' according to the Congress.gov summary of the resolution. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and other members of the House Freedom Caucus hold a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arrives for a classified briefing on the airstrikes launched against the Syrian military, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Rand Paul speaks at a campaign rally in the Olmsted Center at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank/File Photo
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and wife, Kelly, arrive on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul talks to supporters at a campaign stop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to the media about repealing Obamacare after playing golf with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Governor Chris Christie, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, former Governor Jeb Bush and Governor John Kasich pose together onstage at the start of the debate held by Fox News for the top 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Rand Paul speaks at the New Hampshire GOP's FITN Presidential town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul takes a photo with Scott Blum of Monroe, Iowa, after speaking at a campaign stop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (C) speaks about Obamacare repeal and replacement while flanked by members of the House Freedom Caucus, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is currently working on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) fires an AR-15 rifle at CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 16: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., attends a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Dirksen Building featuring testimony by David Friedman, nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel, February 16, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Rand Paul and Kelley Paul attend the Capitol File 58th Presidential Inauguration Reception at Fiola Mare on January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capitol File Magazine)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 15: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during the House Freedom Caucus news conference on Affordable Care Act replacement legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Behind Sen. Paul from left are Rep. Tom, Garrett, R-Va., Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: Kelley Paul and her husband, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, at the National Gallery of Art on September 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 6: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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Baker told NBC News Thursday of the assault "It's not about politics" and "It's a messy yard." He said issues between the two men have been going on for a "long time."

Possible feuds over the property line, landscaping and politics have been floated as a possible motivation in the incident.

Baker said that in the neighborhood people are "meticulous" about the appearance of their home "and without disparaging our senator, he's not as meticulous as everybody else might be out there."

Doug Stafford, senior adviser to Paul, in a statement issued Thursday said "As to reports of a longstanding dispute with the attacker, the Pauls have had no conversations with him in many years."

"The first 'conversation' with the attacker came after Sen. Paul's ribs were broken," Stafford said in the statement. "This was not a fight, it was a blindside, violent attack by a disturbed person. Anyone claiming otherwise is simply uninformed or seeking media attention."

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