Artist charged with assault

Painter allegedly threatened ex-girlfriend with knife

A local artist known for his commentaries on Cuban-American relations was charged Monday with breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s home and holding her at knifepoint.

In a hearing in Douglas County District Court, prosecutors charged 42-year-old Adolfo Garcia-Nunez, known as Fito Garche, with one count each of aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping. All are felonies.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Dave Zabel said in court that Garche and his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend had an encounter Saturday night at a local nightclub. When she returned early Sunday morning to her home in North Lawrence, he was waiting inside for her with a knife and was under the influence of alcohol, said Sgt. Dan Ward, a Lawrence Police spokesman.

According to a police report, he choked her, struck her and cut her on the arm with the knife. She notified police after she was able to get away from the scene, Ward said.

Zabel said in court that the woman and Garche had been in a two- or three-year relationship that she cut off in May. Zabel asked for a high bond, saying Garche could be a danger to the victim if released from jail.

Zabel also said Garche was on felony diversion in Douglas County after being charged earlier this year with making a false writing.

Judge Paula Martin set Garche’s bond at $125,000. She appointed an attorney to represent him and set his next court hearing for Oct. 4.

Garche, a critic of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, has said he fled Cuba in the mid-1990s after the government persecuted him for political statements in his art. He was featured in a recent Journal-World series about the toughening of the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba.

His paintings explore topics including the suppression of religion under Castro and the emotional pain caused by the U.S. embargo.

He appeared in court by video conference from the Douglas County Jail. A courtroom interpreter translated the proceedings into Spanish for him.