Woman Admits Killing Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood

Woman Admits Killing Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood: In a case that garnered widespread attention to the issue of sexual assault in the military, as well as inspired a federal law and a documentary on Netflix, Cecily Aguilar, age 24, entered a guilty plea to the charge of accessory to murder after the fact.

At Fort Hood, a Woman Says She Killed Vanessa Guillen

The sole person prosecuted in the 2020 assassination of Vanessa Guillen, a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to four counts of accessory to murder after the fact. Cecily Aguilar, 24, faces a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in jail, three years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine, authorities said. She also pled guilty to three charges of false statement or representation.

Specialist Guillen, 20, was last seen on April 22, 2020, at Fort Hood, the nation’s third-largest Army post. Prosecutors allege she was repeatedly pounded in the head with a hammer by another soldier, Specialist Aaron Robinson, who killed her and concealed her corpse in a huge box.

Specialist Robinson had been imprisoned, but he escaped and murdered himself with a gun days before charges were revealed in July 2020. Specialist Guillen’s case attracted criticism from many, including celebrities, MPs, women in the military, and Latinos. An Army inquiry found “major flaws” at Fort Hood and an atmosphere that was “permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” including the harassment of Specialist Guillen. This forced 14 officials, including high-ranking ones, to be sacked or suspended.

A Netflix documentary, “I Am Vanessa Guillen,” published on Nov. 17, drew new attention to the case, detailing the narrative of her family’s struggle for justice. Federal legislation by the same name, which took effect on Jan. 1, mandates that sexual harassment accusations involving military members be referred to an impartial investigator.

Justice Department authorities stated that Specialist Robinson’s girlfriend, Ms. Aguilar, had been notified about the killing and that the duo had sought to dismember and burn the remains. Between April 22, 2020, and July 1, 2020, Ms. Aguilar aided Specialist Robinson in “corruptly changing, destroying, mutilating and hiding evidence,” to prevent him from being charged, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

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Woman Admits Killing Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood
She allegedly edited and destroyed material in a Google account for Specialist Robinson, the document added. Ms. Aguilar originally lied to investigators about what she knew, but she subsequently confessed to having a part in the disposal of the corpse, prosecutors said in court records.

According to the complaint, Aguilar “made four materially false statements to federal agents” during their search for Vanessa Guillen. The Western District of Texas Federal Public Defender’s Office, which is representing Ms. Aguilar, declined to comment. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Michael Lahrman said no sentencing date had been established at this time. Ms. Aguilar’s trial was set to begin in January when she entered her plea.

The civilian Ms. Aguilar was hit with eleven separate charges. Natalie Khawam, the Guillens’ attorney, said the plea came as a surprise because, up until Tuesday, she had pleaded not guilty to all counts. “Today’s admission of guilt brings us some peace,” she added, “because we were just waiting for the day when she would finally confess and own to her crime, and the hurt that was perpetrated on this family.”

With the hope of locating Specialist Guillen alive, Ms. Khawam took on the case in 2020 without billing the family. After her body was discovered, efforts switched to finding those responsible for her death and holding them accountable so that such tragedies don’t happen again.

Specialist Guillen’s family will offer testimonials to the judge for Ms. Aguilar’s sentence. Her sister, Mayra Guillen, has indicated that the prolonged period of grieving has been caused by her constant campaigning and court appearances. The defendant’s admission of guilt and promise to stop fighting the charges comforted her, but she cautioned that the matter was far from over until the day of her sentence.

When Ms. Aguilar is sentenced, Specialist Guillen’s family will continue to fight for the rights of victims of sexual harassment in the Army as they seek redress for their member, Guillen. “I just pray God for genuine justice, since she’s not the only one responsible,” said her mother, Gloria Guillen. I pray to God that the truth be revealed because I know there are more.

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