(CN) – A 30-day prison sentence for the man who attacked Senator Rand Paul outside his Kentucky home two years ago is too lenient, the Sixth Circuit ruled Monday.
In November 2017, the Republican senator was working in his yard in Bowling Green when next-door neighbor Rene Boucher attacked him from behind. Paul suffered six broken ribs and lung damage. He also had several battles with pneumonia.
Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress. The sentencing range is 21 to 27 months in prison, but a federal judge gave Boucher a 30-day sentence along with a $10,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.
The neighbors hadn’t spoken in years. Before the attack, Boucher had hauled away two bundles of tree limbs and brush from the property line.
When a third bundle appeared, Boucher doused it in gasoline and ignited it. A fireball blew up in Boucher’s face, and he suffered second-degree burns.
One day later, Boucher spotted the senator mowing his lawn. Paul stepped off the mower and had his back to Boucher.
Boucher charged downhill for 60 yards and launched himself into the senator’s back, according to court records. Three of Paul’s ribs were completely broken in half.
Boucher admitted that his attack on the then-54-year-old Paul was due to “a property dispute that boiled over” and had nothing to do with the senator’s politics.
Boucher and his attorney pleaded for mercy, citing the 60-year-old’s status in the community as a church-going father of two.
Paul testified to his excruciating pain, and his wife Kelley said their home of 23 years no longer felt like a “safe sanctuary.”
In issuing the 30-day sentence, the district court cited Boucher’s “excellent background” and called the attack an “isolated incident.”
The federal government appealed, arguing that the sentence was unreasonable.
The Sixth Circuit agreed Monday and remanded the case for resentencing, ruling against the 95% reduction from the suggested sentence.
U.S. Circuit Judge Jane Stranch noted that past cases involving first-time offenders attacking federal officers have resulted in sentences ranging from 41 to 48 months.
“To prioritize a defendant’s education, professional success, and standing in the community would give an additional leg up to defendants who are already in a privileged position,” she wrote. “Indigent defendants are less likely to impress a sentencing court with their education, employment record, or local reputation.”
The ruling noted that the Sixth Circuit took no position on what the appropriate sentence might be, but said the lower court did not properly weigh all relevant factors.
“The unremarkable nature of this case—coupled with the court’s substantial variance from the guidelines—warranted a more careful discussion about the relationship between Boucher’s sentence and the danger of unjustified disparities,” Stranch wrote.
Stranch was joined on the three-judge panel by U.S. Circuit Judges Eugene Siler, Jr. and John Nalbandian.