*Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information on Aguilar’s criminal charges.
The woman charged with attempting to cover up for her soldier boyfriend who killed a 20-year-old Army specialist and then killed himself more than two years ago pleaded guilty during a surprise hearing in federal court on Tuesday.
Cecily Aguilar, 24, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to making a false statement and being an accessory after the fact in the Fort Hood death case that has echoed around the Army since the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen on April 22, 2020, reported Emily Hilley-Siezchula, with the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald.
Aguilar was previously scheduled for a federal trial in January.
A federal grand jury indicted Aguilar on July 13, 2021, after police said that she helped her boyfriend, Fort Hood Spc. Aaron Robinson, cover up killing Guillen, 20. Those actions included helping Robinson dismember and dispose of Guillen’s body.
Robinson committed suicide by firearm on July 1, 2020, when approached by police. Investigators attempted to arrest Robinson after finding Guillen’s remains, which were buried along the Leon River, an estimated 30 miles from Fort Hood, Texas where both Guillen and Robinson were stationed.
Aguilar, the only defendant charged in the murder, told investigators that Spc. Aaron Robinson hit Guillen in the head with a hammer after Guillen saw a picture of Aguilar on Robinson’s phone, according to a 61-page Texas Department of Public Safety investigation, Army Times previously reported.
“Aguilar later explained why Robinson killed Guillen, saying Guillen saw Robinson’s cellphone lock screen, which contained a picture of Aguilar,” according to a Texas Department of Public Safety document. “[Robinson] told her he was worried about getting in trouble for violating the Army’s fraternization rules since Aguilar was still married to another soldier and he hit Guillen in the head with a hammer.”
Aguilar admitted to details about Robinson’s actions after multiple interviews with police.
“Robinson killed the girl,” she told Texas Ranger Travis Dendy. After Robinson picked Aguilar up from work on April 22, 2020, he told her he had something to show her, according to investigation documents.
That night, Robinson took Aguilar to the Leon River, where he showed her Guillen’s body in a massive black tote bag. Aguilar said Robinson then placed a gun to Aguilar’s head and threatened her so she would help him dispose of Guillen’s body and the evidence.
Before her plea hearing Tuesday, Aguilar faced 11 criminal charges in connection with Guillen’s death: one count of conspiracy to tamper with documents or proceedings; two counts of tampering with documents or proceedings; three counts of accessory after the fact; one count of destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation; and four counts of false statement or representation.
She pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of making a false statement. The remaining charges were dismissed as part of her plea agreement. She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years on all counts.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Frazier said during the plea hearing that he, “...will seek the imposition of consecutive (rather than concurrent) sentences to all counts on which she is convicted.”
That means that Aguilar could serve up to 30 years in prison, if the sentencing judge imposes maximum sentences and agrees to run those sentences consecutively, or one after the other, instead of allowing charges to run concurrently, or in parallel to each other, Manske said. agreement.
The probation department will next prepare a pre-sentence report to help guide the sentencing judge.
“It gives the sentencing judge as much information about you as possible,” Manske said. “It will be based, in part, on an interview ... in which the probation officer will ask you questions about your current and past physical and mental health, your family background, educational history, criminal history, and your version of this particular offense. It usually takes about 90 to 120 days for the pre-sentence report process to be completed and a sentencing date to be set.”
The hearing was not listed in federal court records or the calendars of any federal judges in Waco as of Tuesday morning. On Monday, Guillen’s sister, Mayra Guillen, had announced on social media that the hearing would take place, the Herald reported.
“Tomorrow, we will face this monster in court...” wrote Mayra Guillen. “Cecily Aguilar is the person that participated in the disappearance of my sister’s body… & countless other disturbing details that I can’t bare (sic) to type or say. #JusticeforVanessaGuillen.”
Speaking outside of the federal courthouse in Waco, Texas after the hearing, Mayra Guillen told reporters that the next 90 to 120 days will be difficult for the family.
“I feel like I’m going to be a bit impatient because I wish it all could have ended this year,” she said, in an ABC News clip. “Sentencing could be in February or March, but until then, anything could happen. She could take back what she said and it could be set for trial. Who knows? There’s a lot of ways to describe justice, but I want her to get the time she deserves. I’m comforted that she’ll be locked up for most of the rest of her life. I hope that she has time to sit and think about what she did and how she impacted our life.”
Vanessa Guillen, of Houston, joined the Army in 2018, straight out of high school, and was stationed at Fort Hood. Her family in August filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Army, alleging that she was sexually harassed and assaulted while stationed at the post.
After Guillen was reported missing on April 23, 2020, her remains were discovered on June 30, 2020, by contractors working along the Leon River near Belton, Texas.
*The Associated Press contributed to this article.