A Texas woman who helped mutilate and conceal the body of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen pleaded guilty to federal charges Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Cecily Aguilar, 24, helped the man who killed Guillen dispose of his body and lied to investigators, the US attorney’s office for West Texas said in a statement.
Guillén, 20, an Army specialist, was last seen alive at Fort Hood, Texas, on April 22, 2020, and her dismembered remains were found about two months later.
The soldier suspected of killing Guillen, Spc. Aaron Robinson, fatally shot himself as police moved to arrest him. Authorities have said Aguilar was Robinson’s girlfriend.
Aguilar pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of false statement or representation, the federal prosecutor’s office said.
If convicted, Aguilar faces up to 30 years in prison, but a judge will consider federal sentencing guidelines, the US attorney’s office said. A date for sentencing has not been set.
Prosecutors said that in addition to helping Robinson destroy and hide the remains, he lied to investigators.
Guillen’s family said they were baffled by Aguilar’s decision to plead guilty. Aguilar was first arrested on a federal charge in July 2020.
“So many motions that he has filed in the past, for him to come and plead guilty now, it completely takes us by surprise,” Mayra Guillén, Guillén’s older sister, told reporters outside court.
Lawyers listed as representing Aguilar did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment late Tuesday.
Guillén’s murder and revelations that a supervisor had sexually harassed her, but that unit leaders took no action, inspired legal reforms to help and protect victims of sexual assault in the military.
Key parts of the I am Vanessa Guillén Law introduced a series of reforms, including making sexual harassment a separate offense in the military code and moving prosecution decisions to an office of the attorney general.
They were approved as part of the National Defense Authorization Lawwhich became law in December.