The killer who shot Jacqueline Avant, the late wife of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Clarence Avant and a well-known local philanthropist, in her Beverly Hills home during a burglary was sentenced Tuesday to three life terms in prison with a minimum of 150 years.
In March, Aariel Maynor, 30, pleaded guilty to the Dec. 1 killing and other related charges. He also admitted to shooting at a security guard, who was not harmed, on the property. Clarence Avant, 90, was also unharmed.
When Beverly Hills police officers responded to the estate, they found Jacqueline Avant with a gunshot wound. She was taken to a hospital where she died.
"Today marks the end of a tragic case that rocked our community. Because of a completely senseless act, Los Angeles lost Jacqueline Avant, a community leader and philanthropist," Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. "Given the sentence today, Mr. Maynor will be ineligible for early parole, and will spend the rest of his life in prison."
On Tuesday, Maynor, a previously convicted felon, appeared in court in a wheelchair, according to images.
A short time after the killing, he was arrested in Los Angeles after allegedly shooting himself in the foot during another home burglary in the Hollywood Hills, authorities said. He was found with an AR-15 rifle at the scene of the second burglary, police said.
Investigators said they found evidence that connected Maynor to both crimes and that he bragged about the killing to a friend on a jailhouse phone call.
Court records show he was on parole at the time of the slaying and has an extensive criminal record. He pleaded guilty to a robbery charge in 2013 and was sentenced to five years in prison. He pleaded no contest to a domestic violence incident in July 2013 and was convicted of grand theft in 2010.
He was released on parole in July 2018 but was sentenced in November of that year to four years in prison for robbery with enhancements for being a prior convicted felon. He was released on Sept. 1, 2021, a few months before he gunned down Avant in her home.
Jacqueline Avant was the wife of Clarence Avant, the famed music executive known as "The Godfather of Black music" and worked with many legendary music artists over the years, including Michael Jackson. They were married for 54 years.
Their daughter, Nicole, is married to Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer, and served as a U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during the Obama administration.
The couple counted many celebrities and political figures like former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as friends. In addition to social causes, Avant served on the boards of several organizations dedicated to preserving the fine arts. After the killing, the Avant family has announced a Jacqueline Avant Memorial Fund for the new MLK Children's Center in South Los Angeles.
The shooting death highlighted the increasing regularity of home burglaries in Los Angeles County as crime was on the rise. It also put pressure on Gascon, who has come under fire for his rollback of tough-on-crime measures, angering victims and his own prosecutors.
He is facing a second recall attempt over his directives, which includes not seeking criminal enhancement allegations.
Eric Siddall, the vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys and a vocal critic of Gascon, said an injunction sought by the group forced the district attorney to follow the law.
"Without that injunction, Avant’s killer would be eligible for parole in 21 years, despite his long criminal record and brutal conduct," Siddall said in a statement after the sentencing. "Parole hearings not only mean a potential of early release, but they re-traumatize victims."
"For Gascon now to claim that he’s responsible for today’s sentence is not only revisionist history, it’s completely false," he added.
Maynor allegedly bragged to a friend on a jail phone call that he would only serve 20 to 25 years in prison because prosecutors did not file special circumstances murder charges against him, which would have significantly increased his prison time, according to a Los Angeles Times report published Monday.
During a news briefing shortly after Avant's death, Gascon blamed the legal system for the uptick in crime, saying it allows easy access to firearms to those who should not possess weapons and repeatedly incarcerates people without giving them the necessary resources to succeed outside of prison.
"As far as we can see, he never received any meaningful intervention that may have helped him set his life on a different path," Gascon told reporters about Maynor. "One that would have prevented the terrible tragedy from occurring."