|Loomes Wheeler in 2013 (left) and on April 17, 2014 after he was arrested|
in the Bahamas and booked into the Osceola County Jail.
Staff Writer, OS
Accused of sex attacks on children, millionaire Loomes Wheeler Jr. didn't turn his head or flinch Friday morning while jurors looked at pictures of his genitals during closing arguments of his trial in the Osceola County Courthouse.
Now the jury is deliberating the fate of the one-time fugitive accused of sexually abusing two little girls.
Arrested two years ago, the Kissimmee businessman posted $115,000 bail and disappeared after cutting off his GPS monitor.
Sitting in the courtroom, the 71-year-old, clean-shaven grandfather with white hair looked nothing like the man with a black beard and dyed hair picked up in April 2014 while hiding in the Bahamas.
"This is a man desperate to get away from the truth," said prosecutor Gabrielle Sanders, holding up a photograph of how he looked when found.
Wheeler faces nine felony counts of rape and sexual abuse on two girls as young as 5 years old.
The alleged abuse lasted for years and then remained a secret until 2013 when one of the girls accused Wheeler of molesting her more than 100 times, according to trial testimony this week.
"Here we have this child. She's not going to fight him. She's scared of him," Sanders told the jurors. "She's a child. She does whatever he tells her to do."
The photographs of Wheeler's groin were shown to the jury to challenge any claims by Wheeler's lawyer that his client has a small scar that the child should have remembered if she had been abused so often.
The photos could not be seen by anyone not seated in the jury box.
|Kissimmee, Osceola Co., central Florida|
Sigman also argued that the entire case was built on the testimony of the alleged victims without any sort of forensic evidence including DNA, signs of physical injury or eyewitness accounts to back up the girls' accusations.
"Good enough is not good enough…Make them prove it," Sigman said of the prosecution's case. "I submit there has been a total lack of proof in this case."
If convicted, Wheeler could be sentenced to life in prison.
Wheeler arrived in Kissimmee more than 30 years ago when he opened a grocery store. He later opened Horse World Riding Stables in Poinciana that was a popular destination for tourists.
His wealth comes from more than a dozen land holdings in the county, ranging from Horse World's 217 acres — recently appraised at $4.5 million — to less-valuable homes and lots, records show.