The man who gunned down philanthropist Jacqueline Avant with an AR-15 style rifle at the Beverly Hills residence she shared with her music legend husband Clarence Avant was sentenced to 190 years to life in prison Tuesday.
Aariel Maynor, 30, pleaded no contest last month to Avant’s Dec. 1 murder and the attempted murder of a security guard, who was not injured when Maynor fired at him four to eight times.
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Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila said Avant was shot in the back after she was ambushed in the dark of her home. He said Maynor “researched” Clarence Avant’s name online before the 2:30 am home invasion and hoped to obtain valuable items in the premeditated burglary.
“He shot a completely vulnerable victim, 81 years old, no match for him, and she was caught by surprise,” Judge Kathryn Solorzano said. “And then he left (her) there and compounded the issue by firing multiple rounds at the unarmed security guard.”
The judge found that Maynor “planned” the burglary, citing evidence on his cell phone. She also listened to snippets of recorded jail calls played during the hearing and said Maynor was “essentially giggling about the commission of the offense” and was “bragging” that he planned to obtain an illicit cell phone when he got to state prison.
In a sentencing memo, Avila revealed that Clarence Avant was seated on the floor behind his wife, “holding her head,” when Beverly Hills Police arrived at the couple’s Trousdale Estates home. At that point, Jacqueline was “breathing faintly” but couldn’t open her eyes and “had trouble answering the officer’s question,” it said.
“There are no words to describe the nightmare we have endured due to the cruel and vicious acts of the defendant,” daughter Nicole Avant says in victim impact statement read by Avila. “We are shattered.”
Maynor also pleaded no contest to being a felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of first-degree residential burglary with a person present.
He fled the Avant home in a vehicle that was picked up by multiple surveillance cameras, including city cameras, heading eastbound out of Beverly Hills, police previously said. At around 3:30 am, LAPD’s Hollywood division responded to a different reported shooting on the 6000 block of Graciosa Drive in the Hollywood Hills and found Maynor with a gunshot wound to his foot in a residential backyard, LAPD officials confirmed a day after the murder .
“It appears as though, yes, he was in the house and collecting property, and then after that, somehow discharged a weapon and apparently shot himself in the foot,” LAPD Deputy Chief Blake Chow said a day after the shooting, identifying the firearm recovered from Maynor as an AR-15 style assault weapon.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said Maynor had “an extensive criminal record” and was on parole at the time of his arrest. On Tuesday, Judge Solorzano said Maynor once kicked a woman in the face so hard, she lost consciousness.
Jacqueline Avant was a prominent philanthropist dedicated to helping people in low-income neighborhoods in and around Watts and South Los Angeles. She was also a board member for UCLA’s International Student Center.
Her daughter, Nicole Avant, is a film producer and former US ambassador to the Bahamas who is married to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. In a statement, the Avant and Sarandos families said they were grateful for the “outpouring of love, support and condolences” in the wake of the senseless tragedy.
“Jacqueline was an amazing woman, wife, mother, philanthropist, and a 55-year resident of Beverly Hills, who has made an immeasurable positive contribution and impact on the arts community,” the statement said. “She will be missed by her family, friends and all of the people she has helped throughout her amazing life.”
Clarence Avant, 91, is the powerhouse music executive who manages jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, R&B singer Little Willie John, and many others before signing Bill Withers to his Sussex Records and producing films like Paramount’s Save the Children. He is the subject of the Netflix documentary The Black Godfather.
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