Cecily Aguilar, the 23-year-old surviving defendant in the murder of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, lost her attempt to suppress the June 30, 2020 confession she allegedly made about helping her boyfriend, alleged killer Aaron David Robinson, dismember and hide Guillen’s body. Aguilar’s motion was denied on Wednesday in a federal court room in Texas.
Officers had no justified reason to pull over a Dodge Caravan in which she was a passenger, Aguilar’s defense argued in a motion. That tainted everything that followed, as they held her in custody and did not initially give her a Miranda warning, the defense said.
From the motion:
Ms. Aguilar was pulled over. Within a few minutes, officers had exerted their authority over her and confiscated her cell phone. She was immediately transported to the station house for interrogation. She was taken to the interrogation room at 8:30 p.m., and the interrogation began 10 minutes later. This short temporal duration, while she was continually in the officers’ custody, weighs against attenuation.
Naturally, prosecutors gave a different interpretation of events, saying officers had a legitimate reason to stop the vehicle because Aguilar was barred from the area: the Fort Hood Military Reservation.
“Her presence on post at that time was an infraction,” prosecutors said. “Aware of this, law enforcement stopped the motor vehicle, and the Defendant was confronted. She was never under arrest.”
In their account, the interview of Aguilar focused initially on the actions of Robinson. It was voluntary, she was not immediately under arrest, and a reasonable person in her situation would feel free to leave, the prosecution said. Investigators made it clear when the situation did, indeed, change. From the prosecution’s motion:
During that inquiry about Aaron Robinson, the Defendant voluntarily revealed her participation in the disposal of the body of V.G. after Aaron Robinson had killed her. The Defendant voluntarily assisted the agents in attempting to reach Aaron Robinson via her telephone to determine his location and to arrange a meeting with him. An agent later informed her that she was no longer free to leave and was under arrest. At that point, she was given her legal warnings pursuant to Miranda, which she indicated she understood. She continued to voluntarily cooperate with law enforcement, making additional statements and attempting to locate and persuade Aaron Robinson to surrender.
Robinson, a 20-year-old specialist in the Army, would never surrender. He died by suicide after police confronted him in Killeen, Texas, authorities have said.
Guillen, then a private in the Army, disappeared in Fort Hood in Texas on April 22, 2020. Her family criticized the military, arguing officials did not initially take her disappearance or allegations of facing sexual harassment seriously. The Army promised reform. Guillen was posthumously promoted to specialist.
[Mugshot of Aguilar via Bell County Jail; image of Guillen via U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command]
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