The Tuesday morning trial of 71-year-old Ann Moore Milnor revealed a deeper tragedy than the crime for which she was charged.
Cited for reckless driving after her vehicle ran into the Package Depot in Charlottesville’s Ivy Square Shopping Center in January, she was not present for trial.
“May I approach?” her husband and attorney Richard Milnor asked General District Court Judge Andrew Sneathern, who readily agreed.
Richard Milnor, a fixture in the local courts, has recently been heard in the circuit court arguing the city’s side of the litigation over the fate of Charlottesville’s statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Tuesday was something altogether different.
“The officer had to do his job,” he said of the Class 1 misdemeanor his wife was facing.
Officer Rudy Burchardt recounted the scene he found on Jan. 30 at the Package Depot at 2125 Ivy Road. There, he said, a previously parked BMW had smashed through the plate glass facade of the store and injured a clerk working inside.
Richard Milnor told the judge that his wife, who he said has for several years been battling breast cancer, was recently found to be suffering from an inoperable brain tumor that demanded 24-hour care.
“I take you at your word,” said Sneathern.
Sneathern ruled that although there are facts sufficient to support a conviction, he would defer disposition of the case for six months before a likely dismissal.
“She’s not going to make it that far,” Richard Milnor said in a halting voice.
“I am truly, truly sorry, Mr. Milnor,” said the judge, as he concluded the hearing.
Tuesday’s revelation appears to answer the question of why the highly contested trial over the fate of the Robert E. Lee statue was postponed last month. On the eve of trial set for Feb. 16, participants agreed to a delay, the second one that month, owing to a serious illness in the family of a lawyer.
The case pits a pair of would-be bidders for the equestrian statue of the Confederate general against the city. City Council had the statue removed from public view in the summer of 2021 and voted that December to give it to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. The center wants to melt it down and create a new monument, but the would-be bidders contend that the city did not follow the law in making the gift.
That one-day trial is now slated for April 25.