Middleditch released on bond

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Andrew Middleditch turned left into a passing car on Barracks Road.
Mugshot from Albemarle Police Andrew Middleditch turned left into a passing car on Barracks Road. Mugshot from Albemarle Police

Prominent local realtor Andrew Middleditch, who was charged with driving under the influence following a May 25 fatal crash on Barracks Road, was released from jail Thursday on a $15,000 bond, according to the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail.

Ivy resident Middleditch, 55, was traveling east in the 2900 block of Barracks Road between Old Garth Road and Montvue in a 2013 GMC Yukon. He made a left turn into Haffner Farm, according to a police press release, at the same time Lonnie Wycliffe Branham, 78, attempted to go around Middleditch in a legal passing zone. Branham’s 1990 Chevy Lumina collided with the Yukon at 8:12am, according to police, who say the Lumina overturned and Branham died at the scene.

Judge William Barkley approved bond May 26 on the condition Middleditch neither consume nor possess alcohol, and he must, at his own expense, wear a bracelet that detects whether he’s in contact with alcohol, said Albemarle police spokesperson Carter Johnson. Neither Middleditch nor his attorney, Fran Lawrence, returned phone calls from C-VILLE.

This was Middleditch’s second DUI arrest. He was convicted in 2011, and had a 30-day suspended sentence and a restricted license for a year, according to court records. He also was charged with refusing a breath or blood test, a charge that was dropped.

A second DUI carries a mandatory 20 days in jail, and can go up to 40 days, depending on how high his blood alcohol content was, said legal expert David Heilberg.

Middleditch has not been charged with manslaughter, and police said the investigation is ongoing. Heilberg said the prosecutor will have to determine causation: whether Middleditch’s alleged intoxication was responsible for the fatality or whether it was merely coincidence. Such consideration includes whether his left signal was on, how fast Branhamwas going and whether a sober person would have looked in the mirror before turning, said Heilberg. “It’s not a black-and-white causation issue and could be argued by each side,” he said.

Before he retired in 1999, Branham worked at excavation contractor A.G. Dillard. According to his obituary, he liked tinkering with antique tractors and trucks, he restored a green-and-white 1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne named “Baby Doll,” and he loved bluegrass music and flat footing.

Middleditch has sold over $400 million in real estate in the 25 years he’s been in business, according to his website, including historic estates like Castle Hill in Keswick and Verulam in Ivy.

“He always seemed like a decent guy who worked hard,” said an acquaintance, who declined to be identified.

“The whole thing is so sad,” said another.

Middleditch is scheduled to be in court July 9.