Only Person Charged in Connection With Killing Solider Vanessa Guillén Pleads Guilty in Federal Court
Cicely Aguilar was the girlfriend of a soldier authorities said beat to death fellow soldier Vanessa Guillén and helped him dispose of the body.
The only person charged in connection with the brutal 2020 murder of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to lesser charges of helping to dismember and bury the soldier's remains.
Cecily Aguilar, 24, was been charged with helping her boyfriend, Fort Hood Army Spc. Aaron Robinson, cover up the grisly killing.
Guillén was beaten to death on base in April 2020. Investigators believe Robinson killed her, then enlisted his civilian girlfriend to cut up the remains, burn them, and then bury them some 20 miles away.
Robinson shot himself to death as investigators approached to arrest him, authorities said.
The victim's relatives had attended the hearing in Waco, Texas.
"With so many motions that she's filed in the past, for her to plead guilty now did take us by completely by surprise," said sister Mayra Guillén. "We actually thought she was going to keep fighting back.
"I'm very taken aback by her decision today. There's still a lot of mixed emotions. Both anger and frustration," the sister said. "Now we are going to have to wait for the actual sentencing."
A sentencing date was not announced in court. Aguilar pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory after the fact and to three counts of making false statements to investigators. She was initially indicted on 11 charges including mutilating evidence.
She faces a maximum combined sentence of 30 years in prison.
A 95-minute documentary titled "I Am Vanessa Guillén," directed by Christy Wegener, is currently streaming on Netflix.
It is a detailed look at the deeply disturbing case of a Texas woman who dreamed of a military career, only to experience a violent death after she complained of being sexually harassed by a superior at a military installation long plagued by accusations of harassment, missing soldiers and violence.
One long year after her killing, a U.S. Army investigation determined Guillén's claims of being sexually harassed had been ignored by her superiors.
The soldier vanished two years ago on an April Sunday, in broad daylight, from Fort Hood, the third-largest Army base in the country. Her family would later say she spoke of being sexually harassed at the Texas installation, and of being afraid to report it.
The vanishing of a young woman from a massive military base went largely unreported in the national media until her relatives, and their attorney, began holding press conferences, accusing Army officials of dragging their feet and deliberately misleading them. National marches and demonstrations followed. Politicians, celebrities and women's advocates took up her cause. They demanded she be found.
Two months later, in July 2020, Guillén's body was finally found, in pieces, buried in concrete. She had been beaten to death inside an armory on base, authorities said, and her blood was on the walls and then washed off, said the family's attorney at a news briefing.
In the months following her disappearance and death, a nationwide movement grew from a legion of women who stepped forward to offer their own experiences under the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillén.
Politicians and celebrities took up the battle. The public spotlight grew so bright, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy held a press conference to acknowledge Fort Hood had the highest number of sexual assaults and harassment in the entire branch of the military. He apologized to Guillén's family.
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