Del. Matt Fariss leaves the Campbell County courthouse ion Tuesday after a judge certified his two felony charges to the grand jury. Photo by Markus Schmidt.
Del. Matt Fariss leaves the Campbell County courthouse in August after a judge certified his two felony charges to the grand jury. Photo by Markus Schmidt.

The woman accusing Del. Matt Fariss, R-Campbell County, of purposely striking her with his SUV after a heated argument told a judge in Rustburg on Tuesday that she had feared for her life. 

“I was bruised, I was muddy, I was terrified,” Julie Miles, 56, said when she took the stand in Campbell County General District Court. “I was scrambling to get away from him. I was on my hands and knees, I thought he was going to shoot me. I was pretty stunned that he hit me with the vehicle.”

Fariss, 54, appeared in court for a preliminary hearing on two felony charges in an alleged hit-and-run that injured Miles in March and led her to obtain a protective order against him. He was also charged with a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving stemming from the same March incident. 

After hearing witness testimony, Judge Becky Moore, a retired judge from Alexandria who said she was assigned the case after Judge Thomas Bondurant, a retired judge from Henrico County, died unexpectedly last month, rejected a motion from Fariss’ attorney, Chuck Felmlee, to dismiss the two felony charges. 

Moore certified the two charges, which are now headed to a grand jury that will weigh them on Sept. 11. The misdemeanor charge also will be heard in Campbell County Circuit Court if the grand jury finds probable cause to indict. 

The incident leading to the charges happened the afternoon of March 2, just days after the General Assembly had adjourned its regular 2023 session, when Fariss was heading south on U.S. 501 in his 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe. 

Miles, who lives in Northern Virginia but owns a farm in Campbell County and had been seeing Fariss romantically for at least a year, was in the passenger seat. Miles testified Tuesday that the couple was on the way from Evington to Halifax, where they planned to have dinner, when a tire blew out. 

Julie Miles leaves the Campbell County courthouse on Tuesday. Photo by Markus Schmidt.

“He pulled into a church parking lot,” Miles said. “During the course of this he became very aggressive, abusive and irate.” After changing his tire, Fariss spent several minutes on the phone with his son, which made him even more agitated, according to court records. 

Miles said she told Fariss, “I don’t have to listen to this, I don’t have to do this with you tonight, we can talk later.” She said that she then got out of the car and began to walk north up U.S. 501 toward her cousin’s house in Winfall. “He is screaming and screaming at me,” she said. 

Moments later, Fariss, seated behind the wheel of his SUV with his window down, pulled up next to Miles, who was walking on the side of the road about a half-mile north of where the tire had blown out, Miles told the court. 

“He is one lane over, exactly beside me, screaming to me to get back in the vehicle,” Miles said. “I made clear to him that I did not want to do that. I said ‘F— no,’ after I said ‘no’ repeatedly.” 

Next, Fariss cut a 90-degree turn to the left toward where Miles was walking, and then hit her with his SUV, Miles said. “He clipped me, knocked me to the ground. I was wearing sunglasses that went to a utility pole about 8 feet, knocked off my head.”

Miles alleges that she was still on the ground when Fariss stepped out of the truck and walked toward her. “He told me I should have gotten in the g——–d car, and I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ Thankfully a man across the street was running towards us, yelling at Matt, and I told him to call 911. Matt got in his car and fled the scene.”

Another witness, Stephen Craig Weaver, told the court Tuesday that he was heading home north on U.S. 501 from his work at Foster Fuels in Rustburg when he noticed cars in front of him slowing down. 

“I saw a woman walking north, and noticed a black, very large vehicle hit this woman and knock her down. The car pulled forward, a gentleman got out and charged at her and started screaming at her,” Weaver said. “He was on top of her, got back in the vehicle and left.” The incident took no longer than a couple of minutes, he estimated. 

Weaver then pulled over to the side and asked Miles if she was OK. “She said, no, she was not OK. I was asking her if she needed a ride, but she was still on the phone,” he said.  

Fariss was already gone when Trooper Adam Clampitt of Virginia State Police arrived at the scene about 15 minutes later. “She was visibly upset, and angry,” Clampitt told the court of his first impression of Miles. “I found some eyeglasses, and I also observed there were some tire tracks.” 

Clampitt said that he did not see any blood or torn clothes, but he still asked Miles if she needed medical treatment. “She said she didn’t need any,” he said. 

Miles said that she went to the emergency room later that evening to get herself checked out. “I had bruises on my knee, some wrist pain. I was there for about three and a half hours. I took out the warrant the next day,” she said.

Fariss turned himself in the next day and met a state trooper at the magistrate’s office, state police said at the time. 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 did not testify Tuesday. But Felmlee, his attorney, argued that the felony malicious wounding charge should be dismissed because Miles wasn’t actually wounded and because the incident had been an accident, without malice. “Wounding has to be a breaking of the skin, and we don’t have evidence of that,” Felmlee said. “And Matt wanted her to get her back in the car, they wanted to go to Halifax.”

Felmlee also called for the felony hit-and-run charge to be dismissed, arguing that it was Miles who didn’t want Fariss to be there. “They know each other. She was walking down the road and said ‘f— you,’ she wanted to be away from him.”

But Moore rejected both motions. 

Fariss, who lives in Rustburg, was first elected to represent the 59th House of Delegates district in 2011, succeeding Del. Watkins Abbitt Jr., an independent who retired after 26 years in office. He currently sits on the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources committee, the Appropriations and Public Safety committees, and the Health, Welfare and Institutions committee. 

But at the end of March, Fariss missed the deadline for filing his intent to once again seek the Republican nomination in the newly created 51st House of Delegates District. Former Campbell County Supervisor Eric Zehr, who was gearing up to mount an intraparty challenge, became the GOP’s nominee by default.  

In June, Fariss filed to run as an independent in the upcoming House of Delegates election. His move fueled speculation that his failure to submit his paperwork for the Republican primary may have been unintentional. He has not publicly addressed his legal woes or his future political ambitions. 

Fariss is married and has three children. According to his website, he has operated a country store, managed large amounts of real estate, raised cattle, managed farms and operated numerous businesses. He is currently co-owner and vice president of the Lynchburg Livestock Market, the largest livestock market center in Virginia, the website says. 

In January 2016, he was charged in two incidents, including a misdemeanor breach of peace in a parking dispute, and a hit-and-run in which property was damaged but no people were hurt. He was found not guilty in the breach of peace and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hit-and-run.

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at or 804-822-1594.