Man charged with murder after Cataula woman who broke neck in 2015 passed away

Man charged with murder after Cataula woman who broke neck in 2015 passed away

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - One man has been charged with murder after an incident turned deadly in 2015.

A fun day at a barbecue took a tragic turn for a Cataula woman back in April after 24-year-old Shanita Rutherford suffered a broken neck when she tumbled five feet, landing on a concrete slab next to her friend's house on 4th Avenue in Columbus.

After seven months of intense therapy and rehab at several Atlanta area medical facilities, Rutherford died.

"She fought so hard. She never even gave up even when things looked so bleak," said her mother Melissa Lowe. "Why did you even put your hands on her? I just want him to pay for what he did."

These are questions Lowe says she wants to ask the man accused of doing it.

Wesley Barber, 27, was arrested in September on aggravated battery charges, but no one seems to know what led up to the April 10 incident. Rutherford and Barber reportedly didn't know each other and had just met that day.

Rutherford was showing great signs of improvements. She was looking forward to returning home as a quadriplegic with movement in her arm.

On the day before Thanksgiving, severe headaches led to a serious change in her condition.

"They informed us that she had a severe brain bleed," stated Lowe.

The bleeding came from elevated blood pressure that went untreated, causing Rutherford's condition to go downhill within a matter of days, according to  Lowe.

"On that Saturday they declared her dead. It was just nothing else we could do," Lowe said.

The Muscogee County Coroner says Shanita Rutherford died from bleeding to the brain.

Lowe says she holds Barber and the medical facility near Atlanta responsible for her daughter's death for what she says was negligent care.

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