Update: Man Gets Six Months in Deadly Amherst Co. Crash

Matthew Gardner

Amherst Co., VA - A man will spend six months in prison after pleading guilty in a deadly Amherst County crash.

Matthew Gardner pleaded guilty to reckless driving after a judge struck down an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Gardner was involved in an accident on Route 29 last April that killed Fred Perutelli and injured Trooper Dan Wilson.

The judge threw out that charge because he said the Commonwealth's Attorney failed to prove the defendant was grossly negligent with disregard for human life.

After that charge was thrown out, Gardner then pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of reckless driving.

The judge sentenced him to 12 months with six of those suspended.

He will have to report to the jail at 9 a.m. on Friday.

New details did come out in court.

Trooper Wilson testified that just before the car struck him, he reached for Perutelli and had just touched his elbow when the car hit them, throwing Wilson in the air and then then hit Perutelli.

Virginia State Police Trooper Cliff Thomas assisted with the crash reconstruction.

He testified that Gardner would have been able to see Perutelli and Trooper Wilson more than 1,700 feet before he reached them.

He testifies there was no indication that Gardner tried to avoid the scene until he was 130 feet away.

He also testified that Gardner said he was going around 61 miles per hour, which is 9 miles below the posted speed limit of 70 miles per hour.

Perutelli's wife was very emotional at times during the proceedings.

She took the stand twice, once during the trial and again during sentencing.

We also learned the defendant was returning to school in Lynchburg after a trip to Maryland where he asked his girlfriend's father for his permission to marry his daughter.

The Amherst County Commonwealth Attorney's says she expected Gardner to plead guilty after the manslaughter charge was thrown out.

We also learned that the judge did not allow Gardner's texting records to be admitted during the manslaughter arguments. Those showed that Gardner had been texting throughout his trip that day. But the defense attorney argued the last text Gardner sent was 5 minutes before the accident.

Update 3:22 p.m.

Amherst Co., VA - A judge strikes the felony manslaughter charge against the man charged in a deadly Amherst County accident.

Matthew Gardner has now pleaded guilty to a misdeanor reckless driving charge.

Gardner is charged in an accident that killed Freddie Perutelli and injured Trooper Dan Wilson last April on Route 29.

Gardner has been sentenced to 12 months, with six months suspended.


Amherst Co., VA - The trial for the driver accused of hitting and killing a Buckingham County man and seriously injuring a state trooper starts today in Amherst County.

Police say Matthew Gardner was driving south on Route 29 near Galts Mill Road, when he hit and killed Freddie Perutelli and injured Trooper Dan Wilson.

Police say they were picking up furniture that had fallen into the roadway.

According to the courts website, Gardner's trial is set for 9:30 a.m.