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Prosecutors filed murder charges against a 29-year-old man Monday in the killing of Jacqueline Avant, a prominent philanthropist who was gunned down in her home last week.
Authorities also charged Aariel Maynor with attempted murder, saying he opened fire on a security guard with an AR-15-style rifle during a burglary at the Avants' Beverly Hills home.
Maynor is accused of entering the Trousdale Estates home of music producer Clarence Avant and his wife, Jacqueline, early Wednesday and opening fire with the rifle.
The Times on Monday learned new details of the fatal shooting. Jacqueline Avant, 81, was shot three times in the abdomen after Maynor entered her home by breaking a sliding glass door with what is believed to be a rock, according to law enforcement sources. Her husband did not see the shooting but heard an argument before the gunfire began.
Maynor, paroled from state prison in September, then shot at an unarmed security guard on the property before fleeing in a Lexus, The Times was told. When police officers arrived shortly after 2 a.m., they were flagged down by the security guard and then found Avant with her husband, who was cradling her head inside their home, according to sources.
Maynor was taken into custody by Los Angeles police shortly after Avant was shot. He was found in the backyard of a Hollywood Hills home, where he shot himself in the foot during an alleged burglary, police said.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office also charged Maynor with burglaries at both the Trousdale Estates and Hollywood Hills homes, with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and with using an assault long-barrel pistol during the crimes.
“Mrs. Avant was a treasured member of our community. Her generosity and goodwill touched so many lives,” Dist. Atty. George Gascón said. “My office is working closely with the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments in the investigation and prosecution of this case. We must continue to work together to hold accountable the people who commit violent crimes against our community.”
When police responded to a call of a shooting in the 1100 block of Maytor Place in Beverly Hills, they found Avant with a gunshot wound. She was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she later died.
The manhunt did not last long. Multiple surveillance cameras showed Maynor's vehicle heading east out of Beverly Hills after the shooting, authorities said.
Grace Campbell-McGuire, 17, was in bed about 3 a.m. Wednesday and awakened by what she thought was her father rummaging through a drawer outside her room. Then came a gunshot, followed by the voice of a man she didn’t know crying out in pain.
The teen called 911 to report the intruder, and a few minutes later, she heard the man’s voice calling 911 himself, claiming someone shot him.
LAPD officers arrested Maynor, and paramedics took him to a hospital to be treated for his gunshot wound. During that time, an astute police watch commander in Hollywood connected the dots to the Avant case and alerted Beverly Hills police.
"It is a sad case, and although we are happy we have an arrest, I feel so bad for the family,” Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said last week. "The evidence thus far shows that only one suspect was involved in the crime, and the motive remains under investigation. Our focus now has transitioned from finding a suspect to a continuing investigation that will lead to a successful prosecution."
Maynor was sentenced to a five-year prison term in November 2013 for second-degree robbery and inflicting great bodily injury, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesperson Joe Orlando.
Most recently, he served a four-year sentence for second-degree robbery with enhancements for a prior felony. He was released on parole supervision in September after serving his full sentence, Orlando said. According to the Department of Corrections, Maynor did not have a permanent address when he was released.
Avant served at one time as president of Neighbors of Watts, a support group for the South Central Community Child Care Center, and as entertainment chair of the NOW benefit auction.
Her husband is a legendary figure in the music industry, working with or advising such stars as Jimmy Smith, Lalo Schifrin, Babyface, Bill Withers, Sixto Rodriguez, the S.O.S. Band and Cherrelle.
Known as the “Black Godfather,” he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.
Their daughter, Nicole Avant, served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during President Obama’s administration and is married to Ted Sarandos, co-chief executive and chief content officer for Netflix. In 2007, she described her parents’ deep ties to Democratic leaders, including Bill and Hillary Clinton.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.