Independent review team arrives at Fort Hood

Five members of a civilian panel appointed in late July to conduct an independent review of...
Five members of a civilian panel appointed in late July to conduct an independent review of Fort Hood in the wake of the on-post murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen were on post Monday.(KOLO)
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 1:40 PM CDT
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) - Five members of a civilian panel appointed in late July to conduct an independent review of Fort Hood in the wake of the on-post murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen were on post Monday.

Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White, who have a combined 75 years of experience as active-duty military and law-enforcement personnel, arrived Sunday to start their two-week review to determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and the surrounding military community, reflects the Army’s values, including safety, respect, inclusiveness, and a commitment to diversity, and workplaces and communities free from sexual harassment.

The results, including the findings and recommendation of the review, will be submitted to James E. McPherson, Under Secretary of the Army, and Gen. Joseph M. Martin, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who will co-chair an implementation team to consider every recommendation and implement changes, as appropriate.

The panel has a mid-September deadline to submit an interim report and an Oct. 30 deadline for its final report.

Guillen was last seen sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 22 in the parking lot of her 3rd Cavalry Regiment Engineer Squadron Headquarters.

Keys to her car and her barracks room and her ID card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she had worked earlier in the day.

More than two months later, on June 30, contractors working on a fence along the Leon River discovered what appeared to be human remains.

Investigators searched the area “and identified scattered human remains that appeared to have been placed into a concrete-like substance and buried.”

The remains were later confirmed to be Guillen’s.

Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, who’s accused of helping her boyfriend dismember and bury Guillen’s body was named in a three-count federal indictment Tuesday charging one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence and two counts of tampering with evidence.

Each count carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

She remains in custody after pleading not guilty to the charges.

Aguilar, the indictment alleges, conspired with her boyfriend, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, of Calumet City, Ill, “to corruptly alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal evidence, including the victim’s body in order to prevent Robinson from being charged with and prosecuted for any crime” and that Aguilar tampered with evidence in this case, including the victim’s body, to impair its integrity and availability for use in an official proceeding,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

A chilling federal affidavit released on July 2 says Robinson beat Guillen, with a hammer and that her body was later dismembered and burned.

Robinson shot himself in the head early in the morning on July 1 in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue as Killeen officers approached him.

He died at the scene.

More on the five panelists

Mr. Chris Swecker has a solo law practice, “Swecker Law,” in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is of counsel for the Miller & Martin Law Firm. As a consultant, Mr. Swecker has conducted similar independent reviews, including for the NC State Highway Patrol, the NC State Bureau of Investigation, the Vogel Nuclear Power Plant, and the Winston Salem Police Department.

Mr. Swecker served 24 years with the FBI before retiring as assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. As an FBI inspector, he conducted inspection reviews of the leadership and all aspects of FBI Field Divisions, including Chicago, New Haven, New York, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston and Honolulu. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University, followed by a Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law.

Mr. Jonathan Harmon, chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, is a prominent trial lawyer who has represented Fortune 500 companies across the country.

Mr. Harmon formerly led McGuireWoods’ Business & Securities Litigation Department. His business litigation practice spans complex commercial, fraud, class-action, insurance fraud, complex business/civil tort, environmental, product liability, employment, construction, toxic tort, and federal or state protected whistleblower cases.

Mr. Harmon is a 1987 graduate of United States Military Academy at West Point, and he received a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in 1995.

Ms. Carrie Ricci, an assistant general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has supervisory responsibility for a team of 30 attorneys and professional support staff that provide legal services to both the marketing and regulatory programs and the food safety mission areas of USDA.

Prior to joining USDA, Ms. Ricci served as an assistant general counsel with the Department of Defense Education Activity, providing legal support to 14 school districts worldwide that service 87,000 children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Before her role with DoDEA, Ms. Ricci served nearly 22 years as an active-duty Army officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Ms. Ricci is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Maryland School of Law.

Ms. Queta Rodriguez, a regional director for FourBlock, was born and lives in Bexar County, Texas. Prior to joining FourBlock, a national nonprofit that helps veterans transition into civilian careers, Ms. Rodriguez served as a director of veterans services for Bexar County.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2001. She served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1991 to 2012 as an intelligence analyst and manpower operations officer. Her career experience also includes working as an operations manager at the Lorenzana Law Firm.

Mr. Jack White, a partner at Fluet Huber + Hoang, has broad expertise in government investigations, discrimination claims, constitutional matters, securities claims, white collar matters, bankruptcies, as well as a number of other civil matters. He has also advised state and local law enforcement, social services, and education chief executives on public school safety issues.

Before joining Fluet Huber + Hoang, Mr. White served as a law clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on behalf of the Honorable Samuel A. Alito Jr., who was then a judge on that court. Mr. White joined Justice Alito for a second clerkship at the U. S. Supreme Court during the 2008-2009 term.

Mr. White is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and served five years as an active-duty Army officer before transferring to the U.S. Army Reserve while attending Pepperdine University School of Law. Mr. White graduated magna cum laude and served as editor-in-chief of the Pepperdine Law Review.

(Source: U.S. Army)

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