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Defense files motion to throw out confession made in Vanessa Guillen murder

The attorney for Cecily Aguilar says her entire confession should be suppressed because she was never mirandized and was illegally detained.

WACO, Texas — The attorney for Cecily Aguilar filed a motion Wednesday in a Waco federal court to have the statements Aguilar made about the death of Fort Hood soldier Spc. Vanessa Guillen suppressed.

Lewis Gainor argues Aguilar's Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he says she was illegally detained. The motion also says Aguilar was not advised of her Miranda rights which give her the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. It goes onto say she was not told that anything she said could be used against her in a court of law.

Aguilar is charged with tampering with documents or proceedings and conspiracy to tamper with documents or proceedings for her alleged role in the death and disappearance of Guillen on April 22, 2020.

According to a criminal complaint, Aguilar told investigators she helped Spc. Aaron Robinson dismember and bury Guillen's remains in a rural area near the Leon River in Bell County.

RELATED: Vanessa Guillen killed with hammer and her body mutilated, affidavit says

Robinson is accused of killing Guillen in an armory room on Fort Hood. He shot and killed himself on the morning of July 1, one day after Guillen's remains were found.

The motion states officers detained Aguilar the night of June 30 on Fort Hood. Aguilar was a passenger in a Dodge Caravan when it was pulled over on post, according to the motion.

"The officers let the Caravan driver go and told Ms. Aguilar she was not under arrest and was free to leave," the motion states. "They also asked if she would come with them to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Office on Fort Hood to be interviewed."

Aguilar voluntarily went with the officers and was taken to an interrogation room, according to the motion. It says the interrogation was recorded and went from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. The motion says at no point did they read Aguilar her Miranda rights.

Texas Ranger Travis Dendy told Aguilar she was not under arrest about 15 minutes into the interview. He also reminded her that lying to a federal officer was a federal crime, according to the motion.

"He also told her that she did not have to talk to him if she did not want to," the motion states. "He asked if she wanted to talk to him, and she responded, 'Might as well.'"

The motion states the questioning continued for three hours during which time Dendy told Aguilar they had found a body where they knew she and Robinson were, based on phone records, on April 22.

"Aguilar then told the officers that Robinson took her out to the woods and showed her V.G. (Guillen) dead, in a tough box, and made her help him dismember the body," the motion states. "Dendy stressed to Ms. Aguilar that her assistance now would 'make the difference between you spending 40 years, 30 years, or 20 years in prison.'"

The motion states Aguilar kept answering questions and helped make calls to Robinson who she said told her he "would try to escape and would shoot himself rather than be taken into custody."

Dendy told her she would not be going home and read Aguilar her Miranda rights more than three hours into the recording.

Gainor makes four arguments to have the court throw out all of Aguilar's statements.

  • Aguilar's Fourth Amendment rights were violated when she was pulled over and detained without an arrest warrant.
  • Her cell phone was illegally confiscated.
  • She did not receive her Miranda rights.
  • Investigators used a "two-step interrogation strategy" during which they only gave Aguilar her Miranda rights after they secured her confession and then continued to question her.

"Trooper Dendy only Mirandized Ms. Agular after the officers got incriminating statements," the motion states. "Nothing else changed to necessitate Miranda. The custodial circumstances remained the same, and the agents had largely finished their interrogation."

A hearing date for the motion was set for April 27 at 1:30 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Waco.