Texas Woman Gets 30-Year Prison Term for Killing Vanessa Guillén

Cecily Aguilar
Cecily Aguilar

For her part in attempting to cover up the murder of Vanessa Guillén, a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, now known as Fort Cavazos, whose death in 2020 sparked widespread discussion about sexual assault in the military and led to changes in federal law, a Texas woman was given a 30-year prison sentence on Monday.

The only person accused in Ms. Guillén’s death is the woman, Cecily Aguilar. In a federal court in Waco, Texas, where her sentence hearing took place on Monday, Ms. Aguilar entered a guilty plea to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of making a false statement in November.

After telling friends that she had been sexually harassed, Specialist Guillén, 20, vanished on April 22, 2020, at Fort Hood, the third-largest U.S. Army base. However, officials claim that she had not filed any formal complaints. Her remains were discovered charred and dismembered months later, on June 30.

Numerous people have expressed indignation about the allegations made by Specialist Guillén’s family that she had been sexually harassed before she was slain, and activists have called for fundamental reforms to the way the military handles complaints of sexual harassment and assault.

Following an examination that revealed “major flaws” in Fort Hood’s climate and culture in December 2020, the Army penalized more than a dozen officials. On January 1, 2022, a federal law bearing Specialist Guillén’s name came into force, requiring that allegations of sexual harassment involving service personnel be referred to an impartial investigator. In order to safeguard service members from retaliation, the decision to prosecute sexual assault and sexual harassment will be decided outside of the command structure.

Specialist Aaron Robinson was the last person Specialist Guillén texted, according to investigators who inspected her phone. In court documents, the prosecution claimed that Specialist Robinson killed her by hitting her in the skull with a hammer and concealing her body inside a sizable box.

Despite being first apprehended, Specialist Robinson managed to escape and subsequently shoot himself dead before charges were filed, according to an Army report.

Justice Department officials claimed in the charging papers that Ms. Aguilar, a civilian, was told about the assassination and that the pair had attempted to hide it.

The body of Vanessa Guillén was corruptly altered, destroyed, mutilated, and concealed in order to prevent Army Specialist Aaron Robinson from being charged with or prosecuted for any crime, according to court documents, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas on Monday.

The attorney’s office claimed that Ms. Aguilar misled federal investigators four times during the probe into Specialist Guillén’s disappearance, and that she also changed and deleted data from Specialist Robinson’s Google account.

Prosecutors said in court documents that Ms. Aguilar eventually admitted to taking part in the disposal of Specialist Guillén’s body. They claimed that she assisted Specialist Robinson in dismembering the body with an ax or hatchet and a machete-style knife before they buried the remains close to the Leon River.

The Guilléns’ attorney, Natalie Khawam, said that information about Ms. Aguilar’s disposition of Specialist Guillén’s body was made public at the hearing on Monday in “gruesome” and “troubling” ways.

According to Ms. Khawam, forensic professionals testified that “the amount of work that went into destroying her body and the evidence” was unlike anything they had ever seen. They also stated that it was uncommon “for someone to crush bones the way that they did.”

“Our hope is that today’s sentence brings a sense of relief and justice to the Guillén family, who have endured such pain throughout these past few years,” Jaime Esparza, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said in the statement. “Ms. Aguilar’s actions were indefensible, and she will now face the maximum penalty for the choices she made.”

The sentence for Ms. Aguilar was highlighted on social media by Specialist Guillén’s older sister, Mayra, who said to her sister, “You received justice today.”

The criminal component of this case has now come to a conclusion, Ms. Khawam stated.

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