For the past three months, Trevon and Nyah Avan, the young adult children of murdered Bank of America executive Michelle Avan have begun to walk the painful path of living the rest of their lives without their beloved mother. Avan’s life was tragically taken on August 3, 2021, when accused murderer and ex-boyfriend Anthony Duwayne Turner entered her Reseda home and beat her to death.
Exacerbating their pain are the actions of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón and his refusal to charge Turner with special circumstances as an enhancement to his current charges of murder and first-degree residential burglary. Even more incredulous is DA Gascón’s refusal to meet with the Avan family or permit a member of his team to do so.
A criminal justice reformer, Gascón promised sweeping policy changes beginning with the district attorney’s office. The much-touted Gascón justice reform policies have angered families who have lost loved ones to violent crimes and those same policies have ignited a blazing firestorm resulting in a recall movement. Simply stated, there are many who want Gascón gone.
As of this writing, the degree of the murder charge has not been decided nor has a special circumstance charge been added to the Avan case. And DA Gascón has not spoken with or met with Trevon and Nyah Avan.
The Los Angeles Sentinel had the opportunity to speak with Trevon and Nyah as well as family attorney Samuel Dordulian to discuss the actions of DA Gascón and the Justice for Michelle Movement.
LA Sentinel: On August 9, LA County District Attorney George Gascón released a statement where he described the murder of your mom as a “senseless act of violence resulting in a significant loss for us all.” Were you shocked to learn that Gascón decided he would not add special circumstances in her case?
Trevon Avan: Yes, I was. I was extremely shocked to learn that our DA in LA County, George Gascón was unwilling to apply special circumstances to my mom’s case. The case was originally filed with special circumstances, but DA Gascón denied the request because he’s following his personal feelings rather than the law of the state of California.
Nyah Avan: Yes, I also was equally very surprised. What he’s doing is really against the law and it’s surprising to my family and that he can blatantly go against the law and get away with it.
LA Sentinel: Attorney Dordulian, can you explain why it is important to add special circumstances to the murder charge that Anthony Turner is facing in the Avan case?
Attorney Samuel Dordulian: It’s important because it really captures the essence of the crime. Without special circumstance being applied, Anthony Turner does not get punished fully. And by that, I mean – no matter what his sentence is, and George Gascón is notorious for highlighting this statement, “if Turner gets convicted of first-degree murder, he will get 25 years to life.” Well, that sounds good but what he [Gascón] doesn’t tell anybody, and the public does not know is that the Elderly Parole Law gives inmates a parole hearing once they are both age 50 and have served 20 years of continuous incarceration. If you are sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, you are not eligible for this Elderly Parole program.
In the Avan case – without the special circumstance enhancement, Turner could not receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole so when he turns 50 years of age, he would be eligible for release under the Elderly Parole program regardless of how many years are left on his sentence.
In addition, with the application of special circumstances, Turner would not have necessarily been eligible for bail. Right now, Turner is out and about, shopping at the same supermarket and Starbucks where Trevon and Nyah shop. Is it right that they could come face-to-face with the murderer of their mom because the DA decided that this violent man deserves to be free and out shopping on the streets of LA?
LA Sentinel: To date, DA Gascón has refused to meet face-to-face with your family or allow representatives from his office to meet with you. Was the refusal of your request to meet the impetus for the Justice for Michelle movement?
Trevon Avan: Yes, exactly. Imagine this…our LA County DA – George Gascón, is unwilling to meet with us – the family of the victim, who was my mom, Michelle Avan, a woman brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend Anthony Turner… think about that…yes, it’s very upsetting that he [Gascón] isn’t willing to meet with us to explain why he will not apply special circumstances to her case.
LA Sentinel: If you could speak directly to DA Gascón, what would you say to him?
Trevon Avan: What I would like to know is why? Why are you refusing to apply special circumstances to my mom’s case and why aren’t you applying California law? Why aren’t you advocating for victims and their families as you were elected to do? And why are perpetrators of crimes as violent as this one allowed bail and being protected? Why DA Gascón are you refusing to allow criminals to face the maximum charges?
Attorney Samuel Dordulian: DA Gascón, you say a lot of things. Your statement about Michelle’s death seemed to be a PR stunt. You wanted it to seem like you were concerned because of the media interest in this case. I was present in court with her children and when we were leaving court, I saw Trevon and Nyah watch the accused murderer of their mom walk out of court with an escort, being protected by the Sheriffs and it was an incredible sight because he’s the guy being accused of murder and yet, he’s the one being protected. Trevon and Nyah did not get an escort. You could see the anger, the frustration in their faces …the frustration of how the system and how you – George Gascón have handled this case. And that’s a level of trauma that I don’t think you understand. Your perspective from day one has always been about the accused and the criminal. It’s never been about the victim and what their rights are, their feelings, and their trauma. I don’t think you understand it at all…you don’t seem to get it.
LA Sentinel: The circumstances surrounding your mom’s death have caused you to become outspoken advocates for your family and families of loved ones who are victims of violent crimes. Can you share your feelings about your fight for Justice for your mom – Michelle Avan?
Nyah Avan: It is absolutely disgusting that we must fight like this for my mother when something so horrific, so violent happened to her. It’s not like he [Turner] came into our home and shot her. He came into our home and just sat there and literally used his hands to mutilate her face and beat her to death. That takes time.
After the first hit, he could have stopped and left. After the second hit, he could have said let me leave, this is the wrong thing to do. But the fact that he kept going…hitting her over and over and over again shows how aggressive and evil this man is. There is no reason that we should have to fight like this to take him off the streets to protect other women.
There is also proof that this is not his first time doing this and that information has just become known to us since my mother’s passing. It’s just disgusting that we must fight like this to make sure this violent offender is off the streets for the rest of his life.
Trevon Avan: It’s ridiculous. You really don’t know what you are up against until you’re in the situation. We are ready to fight, willing to fight and we are not going to give up. We will do what we need to do to ensure that criminals like Anthony Turner face charges that their crimes deserve.
Attorney Samuel Dordulian: I think Trevon’s and Nyah’s advocacy is a testament of their love for their mom. It really shows how much they absolutely love their mom to do all these things. I can’t imagine losing my mom under the same circumstances that they faced especially coming home and finding her body. They have been amazing. They are both incredible adults, the way that they’ve come forward, and how they have held themselves out in public while grieving so painfully for their mom. It’s been amazing to watch. They have been an inspiration to me. And that’s why I said I would happily help them in any way I could. I was very impressed with both of them.
LA Sentinel: The public is in awe of how you have shown such bravery and tenacity in seeking justice for your mom against the backdrop of an unimaginable loss. What would you like the public to remember most about her?
Nyah Avan: I want the public to remember my mother’s work within the community and how this not only affects our family but the community. We want people to understand not only are we fighting for our mother because she was our mother but because she was a profound influence within the community.
She did multiple events within the community, across America and she has helped so many people, so many women, and so many people of color. Her main philosophy was “if I’m in a higher position than others, it is my duty, my job to reach down and pull those people up with me. Because if I succeed then they should succeed as well.” That was really something she instilled in Tre and me throughout our lives.
Attorney Samuel Dordulian: The way Michelle raised those two kids and who they are is a testament to who she was and what she did, and I think that speaks volumes. Being an amazing mom while being such a great community leader is not an easy thing to do. It’s a true testament to who she was, and her strong character and I hope the public will remember that about her.
LA Sentinel: What would justice for Michelle Avan look Like?
Trevon Avan: Justice for our mom would be Anthony Turner spending the rest of his life in prison, behind bars, that’s where he should be. We know that after our mom’s passing, we learned that he’s an abuser of women, and he’s violent towards women that he’s in relationships with. He hits women. This is a guy you don’t want on the street. This is a guy that should be sitting in prison for the rest of his life.
This case was originally filed with special circumstances. George Gascón denied the request because of his beliefs. And because of his beliefs, there is the potential that Anthony does not get life in prison which…he so clearly…no question…that he should be behind bars for the rest of his life. And that’s what my sister and I are here to do – to make sure that this guy ends up behind bars in a prison cell where he should have been years ago.
Nyah Avan: Justice for me would look like life without parole like my brother said but even outside of that – justice for me would look like more awareness for women that were like my mother in these situations.
I mean a lot of high-profile women can’t come out and aren’t able to talk about the abuse they are going through. There should be more awareness, more programs, just more things set-up to help women of all profiles, all backgrounds, and all standings. Because it can be people that you would never expect to be in such physically, violent relationships. So, I feel like there needs to be more to help those types of people that feel like they are not able to come out and talk about what they are going through because of their standing in their professional lives or in their communities.
Attorney Samuel Dordulian: A proper justice would mean that he [Turner] would serve the rest of his life in custody and never come out for this heinous, inexcusable crime that occurred.
LA Sentinel: What can the public do to support your demand that DA Gascón meet with you and apply special circumstances to your mom’s case?
Trevon Avan: The public can start by following our Mom’s Facebook page. The Facebook address is: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforMichelleAvan and visiting our website: michellemovement.org.
We are using the Justice for Michelle Facebook page and website as a platform to update my mom’s village, family, close friends, her circle, or anyone who wants to know the facts of her case and what events we are supporting and participating in especially this month – domestic violence awareness month. That would be a great start.
LA Sentinel: Final thoughts on helping the public understand the importance of special circumstances being applied to violent crimes committed in Los Angeles County.
Trevon Avan: I would love to add something. I’m going to make this really simple. Everyone has a woman in their life that they love. Whether it’s their mother, grandmother, sister, their auntie, their niece – if that woman was beat to death like our mom was – the person who committed that crime would not face life without the possibility of parole and that’s because our DA here in LA County, George Gascón, doesn’t believe in applying special circumstances even if the crime warrants it. So, if the roles were reversed, you could be in a situation where you’re like my sister and I, trying to figure out what we need to do to make sure her killer gets life without parole.
Nyah Avan: We want to make it very clear that because of George Gascón, Anthony is not getting life without parole. So, because of that he will be on the streets again. And the next time it could be someone else’s daughter or someone else’s mother that he goes and kills again. As we said before, this is not Turner’s first time committing violent offenses against women.
Because of how aggressive he is and his rage and demeanor… I mean anybody that can sit there and beat somebody to death is just an aggressive individual who should not freely walk the streets. So, this could be anybody’s brother, dad, mother, auntie, uncle, it can literally be anybody…he could lose his temper and kill again if he is out on the street.
Attorney Samuel Dordulian: The public can make their voices heard – the louder the better. I would encourage everyone to sign the recall George Gascón petition when it comes out. When Gascon came into office, he promised that we would all be safer. But if you look at the crime rates in LA County, I don’t think anyone feels safer and if we all want to be truly safe, then Gascón must be recalled.
LA Sentinel: Final question, what are the next steps for the Justice for Michelle Movement?
Trevon Avan: We are preparing to organize a Walk for Michelle in November. Please visit our website and Facebook page for more details on all the upcoming activities for The Michelle Movement: Justice for Michelle.
A special request from Nyah Avan:
If you or someone you love are in an abusive relationship, please reach out to the national domestic violence hotline. Help is available every day, twenty-four hours a day. Please call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).