Ex-convict will spend the rest of his life in prison for the horrific crime
An ex-convict pleaded guilty on March 3 to murder and other counts in the shooting death of Community Activist and Philanthropist Jacqueline “Jacquie” Avant, the wife of celebrated music executive, Clarence Avant, during a burglary at the couple’s Trousdale Estates home in Beverly Hills.
Aariel Maynor, 30, of Los Angeles, could face up to 170 years to life in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30 at the Airport Courthouse in Los Angeles.
Maynor admitted killing the 81-year-old Avant, who was shot around 2:25 a.m. Dec. 1 inside her home. He also admitted shooting at a security guard — who was not wounded — during the burglary.
Maynor, who appeared in court in a wheelchair and wearing a suicide-prevention vest, pleaded guilty to one count each of murder, attempted murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, and two counts of residential burglary with a person present.
He also admitted allegations of using an assault long barrel pistol during the crimes, along with admitting prior robbery convictions from 2013 and 2018.
Sources reported that the Avant family expressed relief that Maynor admitted to carrying out the terrible crime. According to the sources, “While his confession won’t bring her back, her loved ones are comforted with his acknowledgment of the crime and eliminates reliving this tragedy by enduring a trial.”
Superior Court Judge Kathryn Solorzano noted that a report indicated the 2013 robbery involved a woman who was kicked in the face and knocked unconscious and that Maynor had been released on parole for the 2018 robbery in September 2021, just a few months before Avant’s killing.
Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told the judge Mrs. Avant was shot after confronting Maynor, who also fired “multiple shots” at the couple’s security guard, striking a vehicle. He subsequently broke into a home in the Hollywood Hills area and accidentally shot himself in the foot, the prosecutor noted.
Los Angeles police responding to the Hollywood Hills burglary call found Maynor at the scene suffering from the gunshot wound, according to Beverly Hills Police Department Chief Mark Stainbrook.
Stainbrook said Los Angeles police contacted Beverly Hills police, and detectives “collected evidence connecting Maynor” to the Avant shooting.
Among the evidence collected was “a suspected weapon” from the crime, described by police as an AR-15 rifle. Stainbrook said Maynor was on parole and has an “extensive” criminal record, which bars him from possessing a weapon.
Video from the Avant home showed a shattered sliding-glass door, indicative of a break-in. Avant died at a hospital following the shooting. Her husband Clarence Avant, 90, who was also home at the time of the break in was not injured.
Under questioning by the judge before his guilty plea was taken, the defendant agreed that he was entering his plea freely and voluntarily and concurred when asked if he was thinking in a “linear way.”
Maynor also acknowledged that he was giving up his right to a hearing to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial, along with his right to a jury trial.
“Guilty,” he said when asked about his plea to each of the five counts.
The judge also cited a report indicating that Maynor may suffer from a bipolar mental condition and asked if that was correct, with the defendant responding, “Yes.”
In a written statement released shortly after Maynor’s guilty plea, District Attorney George Gascón said, “This crime continues to shock the conscience. Mrs. Avant’s death was a tragic loss felt by our entire community.”
Clarence Avant is known as the Godfather of Black music and has been regularly celebrated by artists such as Jay-Z and Diddy, L.A. Reid, and Babyface. He began as a talent manager in the 1950s, worked at Venture Records in Southern California, and founded L.A.-based Sussex Records and Avant Garde
Broadcasting. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October.
Jacquie Avant served as president of the Neighbors of Watts, where she implemented childcare initiatives to assist working parents. She also served as a member of the board of directors of UCLA’s International Student Center and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
In addition, Mrs. Avant served two terms as president of the board of directors of the Museum of African Art of Los Angeles, as well as volunteered as a docent in the Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Jacqueline and Clarence Avant have two grown children — Nicole and Alexander. Nicole Avant, a film producer who served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during President Barack Obama’s administration, is the wife of Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. She also served as a co-producer on the Netflix film, “The Black Godfather,” a documentary about her father’s life and career. Alexander Avant works as an executive in the entertainment industry.
A native of Jamaica Queens, New York, the former Jacqueline Alberta Gray was born on March 6, 1940. She previously worked as a hospital technician and phlebotomist before becoming a runway model for Ebony Fashion Fair, the premier traveling fashion show where African Americans modeled outfits by renowned European designers such as Pierre Cardin, Givenchy, Yves St. Laurent, and Jean Paul Gaultier.
While pursuing this profession, she met Clarence Avant, then a rising star as an executive in the music recording industry. In “The Black Godfather,” she recounted the lengths that her future husband went to in his efforts to impress her, such as introducing her to stars like Harry Belafonte and taking her to famous clubs.
The couple eventually married and settled in Los Angeles. The couple was married for over 54 years. Together, they made significant impacts on various areas of life, both in Los Angeles and around the world. Both Clarence and Jacqui were big supporters of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade and regularly attended the organization’s annual “Pioneers of African American Achievement Gala.”
Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. Chairman of the Brotherhood Crusade Board of Directors and a close friend to the Avant Family said in a statement “We still cannot believe that Jacqui is gone. I hope that this conviction can bring some sort of closure to what has to be the most painful experience this family has had to endure. But, Clarence, Nicole, Alex and Ted are strong and together I am sure they will find a way to move forward. One thing is for sure, we will all be there for them to help them get through this tragic episode.”
In honor of her work and contributions, the MLK Child and Family Wellbeing Center in Watts will be named the Jacqueline Avant Children and Family Center. The new three-story, 55,000 square-foot clinic will house pediatric, mental health, and primary care services for at-risk, special needs, and foster care children.
More information is available on the MLK Health and Wellness Development Corporation website at www.mlk-cdc.org.