Source: United States Department of Justice
Tacoma – A 25-year-old Renton, Washington, man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 200 months in prison for second degree murder for the brutal beating death of a 21-year-old woman, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. The victim, a resident of California, had traveled to the Seattle area to meet up with Alejandro J. Aguilera Rojas. The two traveled to the Sequim, Washington, area on February 10, 2020. The murder occurred in the Olympic National Forest.
In his sentencing remarks U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle described the brutal nature of the crime and the wide-reaching devastation felt by the victim’s family. Speaking to Aguilera Rojas, Judge Settle noted: “if you take a life in the manner you took here, there will be significant consequences.”
“This cruel and coldhearted attack robbed a family of a young and vibrant daughter, sister and niece,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “Law enforcement, prosecutors, and our specially-trained crime victim advocates have worked diligently to get justice for the family of this young woman.”
According to records in the case, Aguilera Rojas was having a relationship with the victim–a relationship hidden from his wife and family. The victim had traveled to the Seattle area to visit Aguilera Rojas. The victim’s friends and family members reached out to Aguilera Rojas, who gave them conflicting information about the victim’s whereabouts. A friend of the victim reported her missing to law enforcement when she did not contact them after February 10, 2020. The victim’s body was found off a logging road in Olympic National Forest on February 14, 2020. There were signs she had been beaten and stabbed. A broken and bloody tequila bottle and knives were located near where the victim’s body was discovered. There was no identification on the body.
Law enforcement reviewed surveillance video at a Sequim convenience store and determined a woman and a man, later identified as Aguilera Rojas, had visited the store. Law enforcement was able to determine that Aguilera Rojas’ cell phone and the victim’s phone had been in the area of the murder on February 10 and 11 and that both phones had then travelled back to the area of Aguilera Rojas’ residence, after the victim had been killed and left in the Olympic National Forest.
The autopsy of the victim by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the manner of death as a homicide and the cause of death by multiple blunt and sharp force injuries.
Aguilera Rojas was interviewed by law enforcement on February 19, 2020. He made a number of different statements about his relationship with the victim and what had happened. Aguilera Rojas was booked into Clallam County Corrections where he remained until being taken into federal custody. Because the murder occurred on federal land in the Olympic National Forest, the case was prosecuted in federal court.
Aguilera Rojas pleaded guilty to second degree murder in December 2021.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, with significant assistance from the Washington State Patrol.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rebecca S. Cohen and Ye-Ting Woo.