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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Gag order motion denied in case of woman charged in connection to Vanessa Guillen's death

Judge Jeffrey Manske said the motion to issue a gag order in Cecily Aguilar's case was without merit.

WACO, Texas — Editor's note: The attached video is from a previous date

A federal judge in Waco denied a motion to issue a gag order in the case of Cecily Aguilar, who's charged in connection to the death of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

Judge Jeffrey Manske signed the order to deny the motion Monday, ruling it was without merit.

The motion, filed July 27 by Aguilar's defense attorney Lewis B. Gainor, asked Manske to prohibit trial participants, including witnesses, the Guillen family and their attorney Natalie Khawam from making public statements that would "have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing Ms. Aguilar's right to a fair trial."

Manske said Khawam is a civil attorney who represents Guillen's family and is not part of the prosecution or the defense. He said there is no indication she would be called to testify in the trial.

"Simply put, there is little to indicate that her statements carry enough influence with the public to meaningfully affect the trial," Manske wrote. "In the absence of a substantial likelihood of prejudice to the Court’s ability to conduct a fair trial, the Motion is without merit."

Aguilar's trial on charges of conspiracy to tamper with evidence was scheduled for Sept. 28.

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

According to a criminal complaint, Aguilar helped Aaron Robinson dismember Guillen's body and bury the remains near the Leon River in Bell County. The complaint alleges Robinson killed Guillen April 22 in an armory room on Fort Hood.

Guillen's remains were found June 30. Robinson shot and killed himself in the early morning hours of July 1 in Killeen.

RELATED: Fort Hood holds press conference on Vanessa Guillen case

Guillen's family said she told them she was being sexually harassed but didn't report it to her superiors for fear of retaliation. Fort Hood investigators never found any evidence to support the claim.

Guillen's story inspired a nationwide movement to address sexual harassment and assault in the military. A search of the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen will find dozens of stories from people who say they were victims of harassment or assault.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy visited Fort Hood Aug. 6 and announced he was launching Project Inclusion to address issues like lack of diversity, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault and suicide.

McCarthy named five civilians on July 30 to be part of an independent review of the command climate and culture on post and in the surrounding military community around Fort Hood. The stated purpose of the panel is to make sure Fort Hood reflects the Army's values of safety, respect and workplaces free from sexual harassment.

Hundreds of people came to Guillen's public memorial on Aug. 14 in Houston. She was laid to rest the next day in a private funeral.