Jacqueline Avant’s killer shot her in the back, laughed and bragged about it, records show

An aerial view of the Beverly Hills home of Clarence and Jacqueline Avant. Jacqueline Avant
An aerial view of the Beverly Hills home of Clarence and Jacqueline Avant. Jacqueline Avant was shot and killed during a home invasion on Dec. 1, 2021.

The man who pleaded guilty to the murder of Jacqueline Avant in her Beverly Hills home last year shot her in the back and later laughed and bragged about the killing, according to court records reviewed by The Times.

Aariel Maynor allegedly bragged to a friend in a phone call from jail that he would serve only 20 to 25 years because Los Angeles County prosecutors did not file special circumstances murder that could have meant life without parole or the death penalty, a sentencing document filed by prosecutors shows.

Dist. Atty. George Gascón is seeking 150 years to life for the murder with a three-strikes enhancement, plus a consecutive 43-year term for other crimes.


Jacqueline Avant, philanthropist and friend to presidents and entertainment stars, was shot to death in her Beverly Hills home

Dec. 2, 2021

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Solorzano will hear arguments from the defense before sentencing Maynor as early as Tuesday.

“It was a horrific, tragic crime the impact of which continues to traumatize her family and the greater community,” Gascón said in an interview Monday. “I wanted to hold him accountable but at the same time avoid a painful trial for the family... Mr. Maynor has been in the system since 12. It speaks to the failure of the criminal justice system. He rated as the highest of most violent offenders in the prison system.”

Maynor pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of burglary. The shooting took place early on the morning of Dec. 1

As Maynor sat in the Los Angeles County jail in December, he called a female friend and “laughed” about the killing and the publicity surrounding it, the sentencing document said. Avant was a noted philanthropist and political activist and the husband of music executive Clarence Avant.

“That’s not funny. That somebody’s life,” replied the unidentified woman.

Maynor continued to say he “was all over the news” and wondered, “You think my mama’s seen that, though?”

He told the woman in the jailhouse call he expected to get $50,000 from a burglary there that night, the document shows.


Jacqueline Avant helped unite the worlds of Black entertainment, sports and politics. One friend called her “the queen of the people.”

Dec. 1, 2021

Maynor then explained that when the burglary at the Avant house failed, he went to a home in the Hollywood Hills and attempted another one. A short time later, Maynor was captured by Los Angeles police in the backyard of the Hollywood home, where he had shot himself in the foot with a rifle.

Before Christmas, he called a man and bragged that the district attorney did not seek the death penalty or life without parole by filing special circumstances murder. “I’m going get out of jail. I’ll probably do like 20 ... 25 years, get out, you feel me?”

Maynor was paroled from state prison three months before shooting Avant. According to the sentencing memorandum, he had two prior convictions for robbery and causing great bodily injury. His most recent robbery was three years before he killed Avant.

Jacqueline Avant, L.A. philanthropist and wife of music producer Clarence Avant, is fatally shot during an apparent home invasion robbery.

Dec. 1, 2021

It remains unclear why Maynor targeted the Avants’ home or if he knew whose residence he’d broken into. Security video from a neighboring home captured Maynor in dark clothing approaching the house with the AR-15-style rifle.

A few minutes later, the camera caught him fleeing and turning around to fire five shots in the direction of an unarmed security guard, then frantically fumbling to get into his Lexus. He would drop a red glove that would tie him to the crime.

Aariel Maynor
(California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Jacqueline Avant was a prolific philanthropist, serving as president of Neighborhood of Watts, a support group for child care in South Los Angeles. Her husband advised or produced a slew of hit-making musicians, including Jimmy Smith, Bill Withers, Babyface and Lalo Schifrin. Known as the “Black Godfather,” Clarence Avant received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.

Maynor, in seeking leniency, noted that he grew up in the foster care system. According to a probation report, Maynor was 21 and homeless at the time of his first robbery conviction, in which he shoved a woman to the ground and kicked her in the face in Hollywood.

Los Angeles police arrested Maynor for robbery a second time in 2018, records show. While in jail, he reported suffering from bipolar disorder, among other conditions, and said he had been taking medication to treat schizophrenia.

Politicians pushing for tougher-on-crime policies might be tempted to cite the philanthropist’s death. But she should be remembered for her life.

Dec. 5, 2021

California law requires most older inmates or those who have served 20 consecutive years in state prison to be eligible for parole. But Gascón’s prosecutors sought to ensure Maynor would not qualify for early release because he has two previous convictions. Though Gascón does not seek life without parole in his cases, he said that “this is a de facto sentence that will result in Maynor spending the rest of his life in prison.”

Maynor’s lawyer is expected to attempt to remove the previous two strikes.

In the court memorandum, prosecutor Victor Avila said Maynor showed a disregard for human life and is the type of defendant the “three strikes” law is aimed at, with his pattern of escalating violence.

“He shot Jacqueline Avant in the back with a large-caliber weapon and attempted to kill a security guard,” he said. “If that was not enough, within an hour, he decided to break into another home with the same firearm.”