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Jacqueline Avant Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty, Faces Up to Life in Prison

A California man pleaded guilty Thursday to the shocking home-invasion slaying of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant inside the Beverly Hills residence she shared with her music legend husband Clarence Avant.

Aariel Maynor, 30, gave his open plea in a Los Angeles courtroom, admitting he broke into the famous couple’s Trousdale Estates home in the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 1 and used an “assault long barrel pistol” to gun down Avant and shoot at a security guard who wasn’t injured.

Maynor is now facing up to 170 years to life in prison for the first-degree murder of the 81-year-old activist, the attempted murder of the security guard, possession of a firearm by a felon, and two counts of first-degree residential burglary with a person present, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said.

His sentencing is set for March 30.

“This crime continues to shock the conscience. Mrs. Avant’s death was a tragic loss felt by our entire community,” District Attorney Gascón said in a statement, adding that Maynor will be ineligible for elderly parole.

Avant, 81, was rushed to a local hospital but did not survive the brazen attack that unfolded shortly before 2:30 a.m. inside her home. Clarence Avant was also present at the time but not injured, officials said.

Maynor allegedly fled Trousdale Estates in a vehicle that was picked up by multiple surveillance cameras, including city cameras, heading eastbound out of Beverly Hills, police said. At around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, 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 has “an extensive criminal record” and was on parole at the time of his arrest.

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 U.S. 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 managed 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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