1 of 2 | Cecily Aguilar pleaded guilty Tuesday to aiding in the cover-up of Vanessa Guillen's murder. Photo courtesy of Bell County Jail
Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A 24-year-old Texas woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to aiding in the coverup of the high-profile disappearance and murder of U.S. soldier Vanessa Guillen in the summer of 2020.
Cecily Aguilar pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of giving false statements, the Justice Department said in a statement.
A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled. She faces up to 30 years' imprisonment plus 3 years supervised release and a $1 million fine.
Guillen, 20, was stationed at Texas' Fort Hood when she was reported missing on April 23, 2020, a day after she was last seen in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters.
Her remains were found in late June of that year close to Leon River in Bell County where the base is located.
Spc. Aaron David Robinson was named as a suspect in her killing and died by suicide in Killen after fleeing Fort Hood while authorities were attempting to contact him.
Aguilar, Robinson's girlfriend, was arrested in early July.
Prosecutors said Robinson had told Aguilar that he killed Guillen by striking her on the head with a hammer the day she was last seen and that he moved her body to a remote site in the county.
Justice Department prosecutors said that Aguilar helped Robinson "mutilate and dispose of" Guillen's body and that she later tampered with evidence, including the remains, in an effort to stymie the authorities' investigation.
Guillen's family had said that Robinson had sexually harassed Guillen who was afraid to issue a formal complaint. Her death attracted widespread attention and demands for military reforms.
Mayra Guillen, Vanessa Guillen's sister, told reporters outside the courthouse Tuesday following the entering of the guilty plea that her family was taken "completely by surprise" as they thought Aguilar was planning to continue to fight the charges.
"I'm very taken back by her decision today," she said. "There's still a lot of mixed emotions. It's both anger and frustration, and now we have to wait for the actual sentencing."
"I'm glad we're going to have an opportunity to speak in front of the judge and in front of her and, of course, hear what she has to say."
Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, said Tuesday that her thoughts and prayers were with the Guillen family.
"Today, Cecily Aguilar plead guilty to felony charges for involvement in Vanessa Guillen's murder," she tweeted. "We must always fight for those women that have endured harassment and abuse while in the military."