Woman sentenced to 30 years in Vanessa Guillén murder

Mayra Guillén, Vanessa's older sister, posted "You received justice today" on social media.
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Cecily Aguilar, left, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, the maximum available, for her role in the murder of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén, right.

A Texas woman who helped hide the remains of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén in 2020 was sentenced to 30 years in prison — the maximum penalty allowed — late Monday.

Cecily Aguilar, 25, assisted Army Specialist Aaron Robinson in “corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating and concealing” the body of Vanessa Guillen in July 2020 on Fort Cavazos, which was then Fort Hood. Robinson is believed to have killed Guillen inside an arms room then disposed of her body with the help of Aguilar, his then-girlfriend.

Aguilar pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of false statement or representation, the Department of Justice said in a release. She is the only person to face criminal charges directly related to Guillén’s murder.

Robinson was initially detained and questioned, but released. He killed himself as police were again searching for him.

Mayra Guillén, Vanessa’s older sister, posted “You received justice today” on social media and shared a picture of the two sisters as children.

The federal ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén Act’ became law in 2022, putting accusations of military sexual harassment in the hands of an independent investigator and prosecutions for sexual assault and sexual harassment outside of the purview of commanders.

In the wake of Guillén’s death, a total of 21 soldiers were relieved, received General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand, or were referred for further disciplinary action as a result of the Fort Hood report released in December 2020 and a second report released in April 2021. The initial report looked at the larger culture around the post. The second report, compiled by Gen. John “Mike” Murray, then the head of Army Futures Command, looked at the specific events around Guillén’s death.

Murray’s report found that Guillén was being harassed, but not by Robinson. Instead, Murray’s report says Guillén was harassed by “a superior noncommissioned officer in her unit.” Guillén “informally reported that she was sexually harassed on two occasions, and in both instances her supervisor failed to report the harassment, and other leaders failed to take appropriate action,” the report said.

Murray found no evidence that Robinson harassed Guillén, though his report said Robinson had sexually harassed another female specialist at Fort Hood between April and September 2019. 

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In order to prevent Robinson from being charged with and prosecuted for any crime, Aguilar also altered and destroyed information contained in a Google account of Robinson. During the investigation into the disappearance of Vanessa Guillen, Aguilar made four materially 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. 

“Our hope is that today’s sentence brings a sense of relief and justice to the Guillen family, who have endured such pain throughout these past few years,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “Ms. Aguilar’s actions were indefensible, and she will now face the maximum penalty for the choices she made.  I’m grateful for our law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly on this case, as their dedication was essential in bringing this defendant to justice.”

The FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Texas Rangers, Bell County Sheriff’s Office, Killeen Police Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification Forensic Anthropology Unit investigated the case.