A judge has set bonds totaling $49,000 for the Columbus man accused of pushing a Cataula woman off a balcony here in 2015, causing a spinal cord injury that paralyzed her before she died months later.
Wesley Charles Barber, 29, faces multiple charges in the death of Shanita Rutherford, 24, who died Nov. 28, 2015, from cerebral hemorrhage at Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Ga.
Barber is alleged to have thrown Rutherford 5 feet from a balcony during a party in the 3500 block of Fourth Avenue on April 10, 2015, fracturing two vertebrae in her neck, according to a warrant for his arrest.
Rutherford first was rushed to Columbus’ Midtown Medical Center. Paralyzed from the neck down with severe brain and spinal cord injuries, she later was transferred to the Shepherd Spinal Center and then to Douglas Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Facility, said Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.
When she returned home Nov. 13, 2015, Rutherford needed constant personal care, the coroner said. She was taken to Kennestone Hospital on Nov. 18 because of seizures and bleeding, and eventually needed life support because of the brain hemorrhage, he said.
Initially charged only with aggravated battery for allegedly causing Rutherford to lose the use of her legs, Barber was indicted Oct. 18, 2016, for felony murder, aggravated battery, involuntary manslaughter and simple battery.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly said that means the grand jury chose to leave open the option of convicting Barber either of felony murder or involuntary manslaughter.
The felony murder count alleges that whether he meant to or not, Barber fatally injured Rutherford while committing the felony of aggravated battery. The involuntary manslaughter charge alleges he unintentionally caused her death while committing the misdemeanor of simple battery.
Were Barber found guilty at trial, the jury would decide which set of offenses to convict him of, Kelly said.