Driver charged with felony

The Verona man who allegedly ran over University of Virginia assistant microbiology professor Xianfeng Chen while he was jogging last week was charged with driving under the influence and a Class 6 felony today in Albemarle General District Court. He's looking at up to five years if convicted.

James J. Newman, driving a Dodge Caravan, is accused of running down Chen on Whitewood Road June 10. Chen was critically injured and is still in the UVA Medical Center. "He's going to be in the hospital a long time," says Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos.

The heavily tanned Newman appeared in court this morning wearing a white polo shirt. "This is a much more serious charge," said Judge Robert Downer when the felony charge was added.

When he wasn't answering the judge's questions in clipped "yes, sir's and "okay's, Newman demonstrated a tendency to rub his face with his hands. Married with two children, Newman said he was enrolled in an alcohol abuse recovery program. He is free on bond and has a preliminary hearing July 19.

Chen has retained Chandler Group attorney David Kendall, who says it's "a little early" to comment on civil action.

Faculty in the microbiology department declined to express any reaction to the accident that so seriously injured Chen. "His colleagues don't want to comment to the media," says UVA Medical Center spokesman Peter Jump.