A Texas woman who helped mutilate and conceal the body of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén pleaded guilty to federal charges on Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Cecily Aguilar, 24, helped the man who killed Guillén dispose of his body and lied to investigators, the U.S. 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 Guillén, Spc. Aaron Robinson, shot and killed himself as police moved to arrest him. Authorities 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 U.S. attorney’s office said.
If convicted, Aguilar faces up to 30 years in prison, but a judge will review federal sentencing guidelines, the U.S. attorney’s office said. A sentencing date has not been set.
Prosecutors said that in addition to helping Robinson destroy and hide the remains, she lied to investigators.
Guillén’s family said they were surprised by Aguilar’s decision to plead guilty. Aguilar was first arrested on a federal charge in July 2020.
“So many motions that she has filed in the past, for her to come and plead guilty now, it takes us completely by surprise,” Mayra Guillén, Guillén’s older sister, told reporters outside the court.
Lawyers listed as representing Aguilar did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday evening.
Guillén’s murder and revelations that she had been sexually harassed by a supervisor but that unit management took no action, inspired legal reforms to help and protect victims of sexual assault in the army.
Key elements of the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act introduced a number of reforms, including making sexual harassment a stand-alone offense in the military code and transferring prosecution decisions to an office of the chief prosecutor.
They were passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law in December.