Former Virginia delegate acquitted of felony charges in hit-and-run case

A former Virginia lawmaker has been acquitted of felony hit-and-run and malicious wounding charges after being indicted last year for striking his ex-girlfriend with his SUV after they argued.

The jury reached a verdict Tuesday following Matt Fariss’ trial in Campbell Circuit Court. Fariss, who served in the House of Delegates for 12 years, was convicted of a less serious charge of improper driving and ordered to pay a $500 fine.

VIRGINIA LAWMAKER’S COURT HEARING POSTPONED AFTER JUDGE FAILS TO APPEAR IN HIT-AND-RUN CASE

During the trial, Fariss’ ex-girlfriend, Julie Miles, testified that one of the SUV’s tires lost air and Fariss pulled into a parking lot to fix it.

She said Fariss was looking for a jack when he called his son to ask for a tool. Miles said Fariss became “irate and vulgar,” and she started to walk toward a relative’s house up the road.

Virginia Delegate Matt Fariss, a Republican representing Appomattox, makes gestures during the House session at the state Capitol in Richmond on Jan. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Miles said Fariss began driving and yelling at her to get back in the car. He then turned toward a driveway and struck her with his SUV leaving her with a bruised knee and wrist, Miles said.

Fariss testified that when he made the turn, he thought Miles threw his phone at him in the car, which caused him to duck. He said Miles then made contact with the side of the car, pushing the side mirror in.

Fariss’ attorney, Chuck Felmlee, said the charges brought against his client were “overkill.”

“If Matt’s intent was to harm Julie … He did a horrible job,” Felmlee said.

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Fariss, who served in the House as a Republican, ran as an independent in 2023 but lost to Republican Eric Zehr.

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