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The arraignment of Del. Matt Fariss, R-Campbell County, on a felony charge of malicious wounding that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon was continued at the request of both sides.
Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Don Caldwell, who was brought in as special prosecutor in the case, said after Tuesday’s hearing in Campbell County General District Court that the continuation was “because of discovery.” The arraignment is now set for 3 p.m. July 18.
Caldwell said that there was no plea agreement in place. “That’s always a possibility, but this is just about finishing discovery at this point,” he said.
The incident that led to the charges against Fariss happened the afternoon of March 2. According to Virginia State Police, Fariss was heading south on U.S. 501 in his 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe when the vehicle crossed the center line, continued off the northbound side of the road and struck a pedestrian, who suffered minor injuries.
Court records show that the injured person — Julie Miles, 56, of Lynchburg — had been a passenger in Fariss’ SUV, which she said he was driving “excessively fast” until a tire blew out.
“During [the] tire change he became irate with a son whom he called to come help, but [the] son did not have a jack,” Miles said in the affidavit that she filed as part of seeking a protective order against Fariss. “Then he became furious but his son didn’t show up. His mood went dark and he was being angry and abusive.”
Miles said that she got out of the car and began to walk north along U.S. 501 toward her cousin’s house in Winfall. “He was screaming at me” to get into the car, she said. “I said a firm ‘no’ and kept walking,” she said in the affidavit.
Next, Fariss cut a 90-degree turn to the left toward where Miles was walking, and then hit her with his SUV and got out of the vehicle, yelling that “I should have gotten into the g——-d car,” Miles said in the affidavit. She said she was knocked to the ground, and her “sunglasses flew about 8 feet off my head.”
“Luckily a man across the street saw all of this and yelled,” Miles said. “Once Matt saw that there was a witness he got in his car and fled the scene.”
Fariss, 54, left the scene but turned himself in the next day and met a state trooper at the magistrate’s office, state police said. He was charged with one count of malicious wounding, a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine; one count of failing to stop after an accident, a Class 5 felony; and one count of reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to state police and online court records.
Fariss was then released on a $7,500 bond.
Fariss missed his party’s March 30 deadline for filing his intent to once again seek the Republican nomination in the 51st House of Delegates District.