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Cecily Aguilar given maximum sentence for her role in Spc. Vanessa Guillén's death

Bell County Jail

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A Killeen woman was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison for her role in the death of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén. Cecily Aguilar, 25, helped mutilate and conceal Guillen’s remains, according to court documents. She also destroyed important digital evidence in the case and made false statements to federal investigators.

On Nov. 29, 2022, Aguilar pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of false statement or representation, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

The sentencing hearing began at 9 a.m. in Waco before US District Court Judge Alan D. Albright. The Guillén family, their attorney Natalie Khawam and Vanessa’s friends shared victim impact statements and demonstrated outside the courthouse to demand the maximum sentence for Aguilar.

Aguilar’s deceased boyfriend, Spc. Aaron Robinson, is suspected of killing Guillén in an arms room at Fort Hood — now Fort Cavazos — in April 2020. Federal and state authorities believe Robinson beat Guillén with a hammer, and later dismembered and burned her body.

Aguilar helped Robinson bury the soldier’s remains near the Leon River near Belton, Texas. Robinson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound when he was approached by police on July 1, 2020.

The motive for Guillén’s killing is still unclear. An Army report issued in April 2021 said that Guillén had been sexually harassed, but not by Robinson. Robinson was accused of sexual harassment in an unrelated case.

Guillén’s death triggered a national conversation about sexual violence in the military and legislation to change how it's handled.

"There are no winners in this story," said Analuisa Tapia, a League of United Latin American Citizens leader. “What we have been seeking isn't vengeance but justice so that this never happens again....Perhaps now, we can begin to let Vanessa rest in peace and power that her death has brought us to a better place for others.”

Copyright 2023 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Carson graduated from the University of Southern Florida in 2011 with a B.A. in English and International Studies, and earned a Master's degree in Journalism from New York University in 2017. Prior to coming to San Antonio, she worked as a reporter for the WMNF 88.5 FM Evening News in 2008. Since then, she's written for Ms. Magazine, Chronogram, Souciant, and Bedford+Bowery, among others. Carson has also done audio work for the podcasts Death, Sex & Money (WNYC) and Memory Motel (Listening Booth Media).