Del. Matt Fariss faces multiple charges in alleged hit-and-run

Published 6:29 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

DILLWYN – Del. Matt Fariss faces multiple charges in the wake of an alleged incident Virginia State Police are calling a hit-and-run. 

“On the afternoon of March 2, Virginia State Police responded to investigate a hit-and-run that had occurred in Campbell County,” said Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne Geller. 

Geller said a 2015 Chevy Tahoe was traveling south on Route 501 when it crossed the centerline. The vehicle continued off the northbound side of Route 501 and struck a pedestrian.
“The Tahoe then left the scene,” Geller said. “The adult female pedestrian suffered minor injuries.” 

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Further investigation, Geller said, led Virginia State Police to identify the Tahoe’s driver as 54-year-old Charles Matthew Fariss. One day later, on Friday, March 3, Fariss turned himself in and met state troopers at the magistrate’s office.
He was charged with one felony count of malicious wounding, one felony count of hit and run and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving. Court documents show Fariss was released on $7,500 bond. He will be arraigned in Campbell County General District Court on March 17. 

Del. Matt Fariss represents the 59th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. That area includes Buckingham, Campbell, Appomattox, Albemarle and Nelson counties. 

Court documents provide details 

As for what happened, two stories have emerged. The pedestrian filed a request for a protective order against Fariss on Friday, March 3. Court filings identify her as 56-year-old Lynchburg resident Julie Miles. In a criminal complaint, filed with the Campbell County General District Court, Miles said she was riding in the passenger seat of the Tahoe when it blew a tire. Fariss pulled into a nearby church parking lot, Miles said in the complaint, but got upset when he couldn’t find a tire jack. Fariss called his son, Miles stated in the complaint, but the son didn’t have a jack either. 

Miles said Fariss grew angry and she decided to get out and walk, telling police she planned to walk to her cousin’s house nearby in Winfall. In the complaint, Miles told police Fariss started yelling at her to get back into the Tahoe. 

“I said a firm ‘no’ and kept walking,” she stated in the complaint. 

In the court documents, Miles claimed Fariss then got back in the vehicle himself and pulled back onto the road, going slow to keep yelling at her to get back in. After she said no, Miles claims in the court documents that Fariss, who at this point was on Route 501, made a 90-degree turn with the Tahoe. That was when he allegedly hit her with the vehicle. At this point in the court documents, Miles claims she got knocked to the ground. Meanwhile, she claimed Fariss allegedly got out of his vehicle and continued to yell at her. 

Miles claims that a witness saw all of this and yelled at Fariss. After Fariss saw the other man, Miles said, he got back in his vehicle and took off down the road. 

Fariss, however, disagrees with how Miles describes what happened. The Farmville Herald was unable to reach him by presstime. But in a statement given to the Lynchburg News and Advance, Fariss said “while I may have made some mistakes in my life, these charges are false. I look forward to clearing them in a court of law.” 

More about the case and Del. Matt Fariss

For those questioning how someone can face malicious wounding charges when the alleged weapon was a car, here’s what the Virginia Code says in Article 4, section 18.2-51

“If any person maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill, he shall, except where it is otherwise provided, be guilty of a Class 3 felony,” the ordinance says. “If such act be done unlawfully but not maliciously, with the intent aforesaid, the offender shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.” 

A Rustburg resident, Fariss has represented Buckingham and the rest of the 59th District since first winning the seat in 2011. He succeeded Del. Watkins Abbitt Jr., who retired after spending 26 years in the seat. 

This year, Fariss faces a challenge for the seat from a fellow Republican, former Campbell County Supervisor Eric Zehr.