SENTENCING UPDATE: Haines City man sentenced to 25 years for execution-style robbery

Nicolas Vasquez held a gun to the back of Joshua Dibling’s head, threatening to kill him if he did not hand over money.

Nicolas Vasquez, 21, of Haines City.

Vasquez was convicted by a jury Oct. 25, 2017, of three counts of robbery with a deadly weapon and one count of burglary while armed with assault or battery. He was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison by Judge Roddenbery.

Assistant State Attorney Amy Smith tried Vasquez’s case and walked the jurors through the events of Dec. 2, 2015.

About 10:15 a.m., Vasquez and his co-defendant Zachary Bitner went to Executive Insurance in Lake Alfred with handguns. Upon entering the building, the masked men drew their weapons and demanded money.

Bitner stayed in the front of the agency, pointing a gun at an employee and customer. Vasquez went back to the offices and pointed a gun at Dibling.

Vasquez threatened to kill the man if he did not hand over money.

While holding a gun to the back of Dibling’s head, Vasquez then walked him to the owner’s office and demanded more money. He told Dibling to get down on the ground, while still holding the gun to the back of his head.

Vazquez then took the money and ran out of the agency, followed by Bitner.

They stole about $1,000 from the victims and fled on foot into a wooded area. While fleeing, they removed the clothing they were wearing and hid it under a trailer.

Vasquez and Bitner then got into a white Toyota truck, which was driven by co-defendant Koree Warren.

A Polk County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Deputy tracked Vasquez and Bitner through the wooded area behind the agency but only located the discarded items of clothing.

Assistant State Attorney Amy Smith, right, and Vasquez’s defense attorney address Judge Roddenbery during the sentencing hearing Tuesday.

A witness saw a white Toyota leaving a neighborhood located North East of the Insurance Agency.  Later, a second witness saw the same white Toyota parked near his cousin’s residence.

When the witness attempted to make contact with the occupants, a Hispanic male, later identified as Vasquez, displayed an apparent semi-automatic firearm. The weapons were later found to be Airsoft guns.

Law enforcement located and completed a traffic stop on the truck the following day.

The description of the suspects in the Toyota matched the description of the suspects from the armed robbery. DNA testing confirmed the identity of both Vasquez and Bitner.

Prior to Vasquez’s sentencing, Warren – the getaway driver – testified against his co-defendant and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Bitner – the second gunman – was sentenced to life in prison.