Cecily Aguilar sentenced to 30 years in prison for her role in Vanessa Guillén’s killing

Cecily Aguilar on Monday was sentenced to 30 years in prison for her role in the killing of...
Cecily Aguilar on Monday was sentenced to 30 years in prison for her role in the killing of U.S. Army soldier Vanessa Guillen.(KWTX)
Published: Aug. 13, 2023 at 6:25 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2023 at 10:12 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - (GRAPHIC) “May God touch her heart and may she repent. She is a young woman and I don’t wish anyone death, only that justice be served,” said Gloria Guillén, the mother of slain U.S. Army soldier Vanessa Guillén, after Cecily Aguilar was sentenced to 30 years in prison for her role in the April 2020 murder.

“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,” said Jaime Esparza, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. “Ms. Aguilar’s actions were indefensible, and she will now face the maximum penalty for the choices she made.

Back in November 2022, Aguilar pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory after the fact and three counts of making a false statement.

During Monday’s sentencing hearing, investigators said a witness who spoke with Cecily Aguilar revealed disturbing new details about the murder of the Army soldier back in 2020. Aguilar reportedly told the witness that the man who murdered Guillen, Aaron David Robinson, had sexual intercourse with the body of the slain soldier after she was murdered.

During her testimony, Gloria told the judge she and her youngest daughter, Lupe Guillén, were hospitalized as a result of the distress caused by the news of the manner in which Vanessa was murdered.

“I’m here for one reason, for my daughter because I feel pain in my heart, " Gloria said, “She was a tremendous human being. She was a little girl with enthusiasm for life. She wanted to study, to get married, to have kids. We loved each other very much.”

Those in the gallery cried for almost her entire statement. At one point, even Judge Alan Albright wiped away a tear.

“When she wanted to go into the Army, I disagreed. I could feel in my heart it wasn’t for her. But she told me, ‘God tells me I should go and I’m going to go. Nothing bad is going to happen to me. Let me go,’” Gloria recounted, “I don’t know if you have children, but children give us life and we will give our life for our children.”

File Photo: Vanessa Guillen
File Photo: Vanessa Guillen(Family photo/KWTX/Gray News)

During Monday’s hearing, Aguilar’s childhood was described as “horrific” by psychologist Dr. Jon Matthew Fabian, a witness for the defense.

The psychiatrist testified on Monday that Aguilar suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), a condition where the child fails to form healthy emotional bonds with caretakers and parental figures, often as a result of emotional neglect or abuse at an early age.

Despite the diagnosis, the psychologist testified Aguilar still has no disorders that impair her thoughts and she still knows the difference between right and wrong.

Aguilar was given up by her mother days after her birth after the mother was deemed an unfit parent. Aguilar went into the custody of her grandmother until she was adopted at age 2. Her adoptive parents reportedly had a hard time connecting with her emotionally and physically.

Aguilar was a runaway as a child and eventually left her adoptive home on bad terms, Fabian testified. She told the psychologist in an interview that she became homeless at age 15 and worked as a prostitute to make ends meet.

Spc. Aaron David Robinson, of Calumet City, Ill., (right) beat Fort Hood Spc. Vanessa Guillen,...
Spc. Aaron David Robinson, of Calumet City, Ill., (right) beat Fort Hood Spc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, to death with a hammer and he and his girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, later dismembered the body and tried to burn the remains, an affidavit says. (Fort Hood photo/Jail photo)(KWTX)(Fort Hood, Jail Photo, KWTX)

Aguilar is the only person to be charged in Vanessa’s murder. She previously admitted to helping her boyfriend, Robinson, dismember Vanessa’s body before burying her remains in shallow graves along the Leon River. Robinson killed himself in Killeen before Guillén’s body was found.

According to testimony in court, Aguilar was interviewed by detectives with The Texas Department of Public Safety on multiple occasions and she lied to them about her and Robinson being home all day and night when Vanessa went missing. It wasn’t until detectives revealed that they found a body that Aguilar admitted any involvement.

Aguilar, prosecutors said, asked her and Robinson’s roommate to lie if detectives ever asked where they were the day Guillen was killed and say they were home the entire time. The roommate eventually told police they were gone all night. The roommate further said Aguilar told him Robinson had sex with Guillen’s body after she was killed.


Aguilar also told detectives that Robinson took her out to the Leon River where Vanessa’s body was in a case. “There was a hole in her head,” Aguilar told detectives.

According to testimony, Aguilar first told detectives Robinson held a gun to her head and demanded her help getting rid of Guillen’s body. Aguilar later admitted that was a lie and that Robinson told her, “you’re in this now so you might as well help me.” Aguilar told detectives they got the idea of how to dismember and hide Guillen’s body from watching the show “Criminal Minds.”

She revealed she bought cement from someone on Facebook marketplace and met them to pick it up at Walmart in Belton. The woman also said she and Robinson spent hours trying to take apart, burn and bury Vanessa’s remains, and they had to return the next day to finish.

Detectives brought Aguilar to the scene where the remains were found twice after making the discovery, once at night and again the next day on July 1 during daylight. Body camera footage shown in court revealed Aguilar’s demeanor was normal at the scene, even making jokes with officers.

When asked why Robinson would kill Vanessa, Aguilar said he did not know, and that he barely knew her. She said Vanessa’s name was not even saved in Robinson’s phone.

WATCH: Veterans gather outside the federal courthouse in Waco to raise awareness about sexual assaults in the military

Monday’s hearing was originally scheduled for April, but Aguilar’s defense attorney previously filed a motion to delay it to allow a psychiatric expert to testify.

Vanessa’s older sister, Mayra Guillén, told KWTX that she wanted Aguilar to receive the maximum sentence. “We all have different opinions on what justice is, if that’s what the law is saying, then I agree with it,” Mayra said.

During Monday’s hearing, Lupe and Mayra talked about the empty seat at their family’s dinner table. They spoke of the depression, anxiety and panic attacks they suffer from as a result of Vanessa’s murder, even telling the court that they cried for 70 straight days while Vanessa was missing.

“We never got to see my sister’s face,” Mayra told the judge, “Seeing images of her skeletal remains game me some closure.”

In a statement to the Guillén Family, Aguilar said, “I give my sincerest apologies to the family. I am ashamed of my actions and the person I was. My actions haunt me every day. Vanessa does not deserve what happened to her. I am hoping that one day, Mrs. Guillén that you will have comfort.”

The family stared blankly as Aguilar apologized for her actions.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ in person,” Aguilar said.

Commanders at Fort Cavazos emailed KWTX the following statement:

“The III Armored Corps is aware of the sentencing of Cecily Aguilar, who pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of making a false statement in connection with the death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen.

“We respect the decision of the court and hope that this will bring some measure of closure to the Guillen family and the Fort Cavazos community.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Guillen family for their loss.

“Specialist Guillen was a valued member of our team and a dedicated soldier who served with honor and distinction. Her tragic death has deeply affected us all and we will never forget her.”

TIMELINE OF EVENTS: The murder of Vanessa Guillén, the search for her remains, and her family’s fight for justice