A grand jury in Campbell County has indicted Del. Matt Fariss, R-Campbell County, on two felony charges in an alleged hit-and-run that injured a woman he was seeing romantically and led her to obtain a protective order against him. A trial date has been set for Jan. 19 at 9 a.m.
Fariss was also indicted on a misdemeanor reckless driving charge stemming from the same incident, which happened the afternoon of March 2, when Fariss was heading south on U.S. 501 in his 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe.
Judy Miles, the woman accusing Fariss of purposely striking her with his SUV, was in the passenger seat. Miles testified during a preliminary hearing last month that the couple was on the way from Evington to Halifax, where they planned to have dinner, when a tire blew out.
While changing the tire after pulling into a church parking lot, Fariss became “very aggressive, abusive and irate,” Miles told the court. 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.
Seated behind the wheel of his SUV with his window down, Fariss pulled up next to Miles, ordering her to get back into the vehicle, which she refused, Miles said.
Fariss then cut a 90-degree turn to the left toward where Miles was walking, and then hit her with his SUV before speeding off, 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 that she had feared for her life. “I was bruised, I was muddy, I was terrified,” she said.
Fariss turned himself in the day after the incident 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.
Chuck Felmlee, Fariss’ attorney, asked during the hearing for both felony charges to be dismissed, arguing that Miles wasn’t actually wounded and because the incident had been an accident, without malice. He also argued that it was Miles who didn’t want Fariss to be there, which he said didn’t justify the felony hit-and-run charge.
The judge denied both motions and the case was certified to the grand jury.
Fariss, who lives in Rustburg, was first elected to represent the 59th House of Delegates District in 2011. He is running as an independent in the upcoming elections after missing the filing deadline for the Republican primary. Also on the ballot are Republican Eric Zehr and Democrat Kimberly Moran.