A Texas woman accused of helping her boyfriend hide a Fort Hood soldier’s body has confessed in the case.
Feds say Aguilar assisted her romantic partner, Army Specialist Aaron Robinson, 20, after he beat Guillén to death with a hammer on April 22, 2020, on the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Investigators believe Robinson then enlisted Aguilar to help conceal the victim’s burnt and dismembered remains, which were found two months later in a wooded area off-base near the Leon River in Bell County.
On July 1, 2020, one day after Guillén’s body was discovered, Robinson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound as investigators closed in.
Aguilar, a gas station attendant from Killeen, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of making false statements, according to the Department of Justice’s release.
“According to court documents, from April 22, 2020, through July 1, 2020, Aguilar assisted Army Specialist Aaron Robinson in corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating, and concealing evidence - that is, the body of Vanessa Guillén - in order to prevent Robinson from being charged with and prosecuted for any crime,” federal authorities stated.
Prosecutors stated that Aguilar “altered and destroyed” information found in a Google account belonging to her boyfriend and also provided “four materially false statements.”
Prior to the guilty plea, Aguilar was scheduled to face trial in January, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Photo: Fort Hood and III Corps; Bell County Jail
Natalie Khawam, an attorney representing the Guillén family, released the following statement:
“Cecily Aguilar's guilty plea today was another step on the long path toward justice for Vanessa, my client, and her courageous family,” said Khawam. “I will never stop fighting for my clients and will continue to seek and demand justice for victims and their families until it’s achieved.”
Aguilar claimed Robinson picked her up from work and drove her to the woods, forcing her to use a hatchet or machete-type weapon to dismember Guillén’s body. Upon failing to burn the remains, the pair buried them in three different holes.
Cell phone data also placed Aguilar and Robinson near Guillén’s residence the night she disappeared.
Aguilar’s lawyers tried to have her previous statements thrown out, claiming officers obtained the confession illegally, failing to Mirandize the suspect and inform her of her right to an attorney.
A federal judge denied the defense’s motion, allowing the confession to stay.
Guillén’s death highlighted the military’s response (or alleged lack thereof) to sexual abuse claims made within the armed forces after it was learned Guillén made multiple reports of sexual harassment to no avail. The discovery prompted a movement on social media attached to the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillén with many sharing similar stories, laying the groundwork for the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act of 2020.
In January, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice to strengthen the military’s response to sexual abuse claims.
Mayra Guillén also had a few choice words for Cecily Aguilar ahead of her conviction.
“I feel so sick every time I see her face to face. Sick to my stomach. Anxiety. Anger & frustration. I can’t put my words together,” said Mayra Guillén. “I hope she gets what she deserves. For her to have the nerve to smile at her defense etc. She has no remorse.”
The sister followed up with a second tweet, stating, “I hate you with all my heart, Cecily. You have no idea how much you’ve hurt us, along with all the others involved that the public will know one day. All of your names and faces.”
U.S. Representative Mayra Flores also took to Twitter in light of Aguilar’s recent guilty plea.
“We must always fight for those women that have endured harassment and abuse while in the military,” Flores posted.
Aguilar faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison, three years supervised release, and a $1 million fine. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.