WACO, TX — Monday marked the beginning of legal proceedings in the disappearance of Fort Hood Soldier Vanessa Guillen as the only living defendant left faced a federal judge.
22-year-old Cecily Ann Aguilar's first court appearance didn't shed much light on the disappearance of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen.
But it was the first step in a possibly long road for this case.
As Vanessa Guillen's family learned more about how investigators believe her disappearance began...their attorney says, it broke their hearts.
"Not only was it devastating, it was disgusting. I just don't know how anybody can be so barbaric," said Natalie Khwan.
On Monday, a clerk read criminal conspiracy charges out loud to Cecily Ann Aguilar, via teleconference.
Aguilar could get 20 years in federal prison and a quarter million dollar fine for helping hide and destroy evidence in the Guillen case.
"These are the kinds of cases that tend to drag out for a long time," said Attorney Jason Milam, of Milam & Fanning PLLC, who has experience with similar cases.
He says the case has good and bad news in it for Aguilar.
Her defense could throw more blame on her boyfriend, Spc. Aaron Robinson, who committed suicide by gun in front of police.
"It could, in the end, turn out to benefit her that there's one less witness to the alleged offense," said Milam.
Or, as the only living person investigators believe responsible for Guillen's disappearance, and the nation watching, things could get very difficult.
"She'll be the only one left to be able to serve any sort of just sentence for the crime if she did in fact commit it," he said.
While prosecutors sometimes offer deals for a quick resolution of a case, Milam says, don't look for that here.
"Probably not the sort of situation where the US Attorney's office is going to be making quick deals," he said.
Guillen's family believes Vanessa's disappearance from Fort Hood demonstrates the ultimate in workplace violence.
"How this happened at work at the base with thousands of people there...this will haunt everyone forever," said Khawan.
Aguilar has a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 14th, 9:30 A.M. at the United States District Courthouse in Waco.