Shooter of Rock Hill Vietnam veteran gets 17 years, claims crime was vigilante revenge

Wolfgang Liewald in court Thursday with public defender B.J. Barrowclough.
Wolfgang Liewald in court Thursday with public defender B.J. Barrowclough.

The man accused of shooting a Vietnam War veteran in August was sentenced to 17 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to attempted murder and burglary.

Wolfgang Liewald, 32, admitted that he shot Wayne Whiteside, 70, in a plan to exact revenge over Whiteside’s alleged sexual molestation of his granddaughter dating back to 2005. Whiteside’s granddaughter and another man were also charged in the shooting and remain jailed.

Whiteside, a Marine Corps combat veteran, survived the shot in the abdomen, but he needed multiple surgeries. He testified that Thursday was the first day he had ever seen Liewald, calling him “an ugly son of a gun.”

Whiteside said when he was attacked while sleeping at his Rock Hill home on Aug. 23, he “saw a flash” and felt the gunshot, “but I never did go down.” He retrieved his gun and fired a shot at the fleeing Liewald and another man.

Whiteside then called 911, he said, before yelling after his attacker, “I’m coming to get you, you SOB!”

As a Marine, Whiteside said, he believes in “standing up for what I believe,” before ending his testimony with “that’s all I have to say about that.”

Whiteside faces more surgeries, including one scheduled for Friday, his sister, Elaine Whiteside, said.

“They went in there and shot him, then took off running,” she testified, looking at Liewald. “He needs to pay for what he done.”

Wolfgang Liewald, 32, an ex-con with past convictions for drugs and other charges, pleaded guilty in the attempted murder and robbery of Vietnam War veteran Wayne Whiteside. Here are excerpts from court. (video by Andrew Dys)

Wayne Whiteside did not address allegations made in court by Liewald’s lawyer, 16th Circuit Deputy Public Defender B.J. Barrowclough, claiming Kaylan Whiteside, 22, concocted the plan to “exact revenge” after her step-grandfather allegedly molested her 10 years ago.

Whiteside was arrested in 2005 on a charge of lewd act against a child, according to York County court records. He pleaded no contest to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature later that year and was sentenced to five years’ probation, with a 10-year prison sentence suspended, records show.

Liewald has several previous convictions, including for drug possession and burglary.

Barrowclough said Liewald himself was molested by a babysitter when he was 12, which led to a life of crime and methamphetamine use and his involvement in the revenge scheme.

The plot to tie up Wayne Whiteside was “drug-induced, misguided vigilantism,” Barrowclough said.

Liewald did not discuss the crime in court.

Kaylan Whiteside and the other suspect, Ben Patrick Smith, 42, remain jailed facing charges of attempted murder, conspiracy and burglary, as well as weapons charges.

On Aug. 23, 16th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Jessica Holland said, Smith and Liewald disconnected the power to Wayne Whiteside’s home while Kaylan Whiteside waited in a nearby rental car. Liewald had bought a gun for the crime, she said, and the conspirators bought duct tape, ropes and other kidnapping implements.

Smith’s fingerprints were found at the scene, Holland said, and he was arrested a couple of days after the shooting. Liewald and Kaylan Whiteside fled the county, she said, ditching clothes at a McDonald’s restaurant in Gaffney before being caught several days later in Union County.

Kaylan Whiteside gave a “detailed statement to police” about the crime after she was caught, Holland said.

Liewald’s negotiated plea, accepted by visiting Circuit Court Judge Eugene Griffith of Newberry, does not require Liewald to testify against Kaylan Whiteside or Smith, Barrowclough said.

After the court hearing, Liewald’s mother, Lisa Wilson, and grandmother, Hildegard Liewald, blamed drugs for his actions.

Kaylan Whiteside’s attorney, Stuart Axelrod, declined to comment Thursday.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065