Cecily Aguilar sentenced to 30 years in Vanessa Guillen case

Aguilar pleaded guilty to helping then-boyfriend dispose of Guillen's body.

August 14, 2023, 7:05 PM

Cecily Aguilar, who pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three other charges in the 2020 murder of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas, confirmed Monday.

“Our hope is that today’s sentence brings a sense of relief and justice to the Guillen family, who have endured such pain throughout these past few years,” U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas said in a statement. “Ms. Aguilar’s actions were indefensible, and she will now face the maximum penalty for the choices she made. I’m grateful for our law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly on this case, as their dedication was essential in bringing this defendant to justice.”

Aguilar faced sentencing in Waco, Texas, for her role in the 2020 murder of Guillen. Aguilar, who pleaded guilty in 2022 to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three other charges, faced a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

When authorities attempted to approach Robinson in 2020 after cellphone records revealed Robinson was the last person in contact with Guillen prior to her murder, Robinson died by suicide. Aguilar was quickly arrested and charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence, and was indicted 12 days later.

Witness testimony from Monday's sentencing revealed gruesome new details regarding the attempted disposal of Guillen's remains. Justin Duck of the Texas Rangers alleges Aguilar told him how Aguilar and Robinson skinned and then burned Guillen's body with gasoline around the Leon River and that Robinson had sexual intercourse with the body of the slain soldier after she was murdered.

Guillen’s sister, Mayra Guillen, spoke to the press after the sentence was announced. She expressed relief regarding the judge’s ruling but also spoke of the pain that came from Monday’s testimony regarding the details of her sister's murder.

“I'm short of words. Today was a very hard day for my family,” Mayra said outside the court Monday. “There was a lot of new details regarding my sister's death and the manner that things happened.”

In a statement, Guillen family attorney Natalie Khawam said Vanessa's family can finally celebrate justice and thanked law enforcement, along with the community at large, for their support over the past three years since the investigation began.

In the weeks after the investigation into Vanessa Guillen's disappearance began, her family took to social media detailing sexual assault allegations Guillen allegedly faced, which her family claimed she was fearful to report. A subsequent U.S. Army investigation determined that Vanessa Guillen was sexually harassed by a supervisor, and that the leaders in her unit did not take appropriate action after she stepped forward.

Because of the wide publicity given Guillen's death, as well as the efforts of her family and others, Texas Governor Greg Abbott in June of 2021 signed into law the so-called 'I Am Vanessa Guillen' Act, which reformed certain sexual offense reporting and investigation procedures, including protecting from retaliation those who report such offenses and assigning investigators outside of the service members' military chain of command.

Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021, incorporated key components of the 'I Am Vanessa Guillen' Act.

“All my sister wanted to do was serve in peace,” Mayra told press Monday, “and I feel like because of her now we're doing that right for our current service members and for generations to come.”