A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Tuesday sentenced the man convicted of murdering Jacqueline Avant to 150 years to life in prison, saying he shot a ‘very vulnerable’ woman in the back. 81 years old, then laughed about it afterwards.
Judge Kathryn Solorzano said that after shooting and killing Avant, a well-known philanthropist, Aariel Maynor repeatedly shot an unarmed security guard as he fled the Beverly Hills home. The judge said the 29-year-old career criminal planned the burglary, consulting the property records of Avant’s husband, music industry legend Clarice Avant.
“He shot her in the back, indicating that she was no threat to him,” Solorzano said.
She sentenced Maynor to 150 years to life for murder, with enhancements of three strokes plus 40 consecutive years for his other crimes.
Before sentencing, Deputy Dist. Atti. Victor Avila played a recording of Maynor in the Los Angeles County Jail in which he called a friend and laughed at the December 1 murder and the publicity surrounding it.
“It’s not funny. It’s somebody’s life,” the unidentified woman replied.
In the recording, Maynor bragged that he “was all over the news” and wondered, “You think my mom saw that, though?”
He told the woman on the jail call that he expected to receive $50,000 from a burglary there that night.
Maynor had pleaded guilty to the premeditated murder of Avant as well as the attempted murder of the security guard, felon possession of a firearm and two counts of burglary.
Avant’s daughter, Nicole Avant, said in a letter to the judge that was read by the prosecutor before sentencing that “the only word to describe the state of our family is broken.”
“We ask the defendant to spend the rest of his life in prison,” the letter said.
Jacqueline Avant served as president of the Watts Neighborhood, a child care support group in South Los Angeles. Her husband advised or produced a number of successful 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.
The murder sparked a public outcry over a new wave of violent crime in Los Angeles County.
Prosecutors had asked for 150 years to life for Maynor with the three-stroke enhancement, plus a consecutive 43-year sentence for his other crimes.
Maynor’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Marcus Huntley, tried to persuade the judge to withdraw his earlier strikes.
But Dist. Atti. Prosecutors for George Gascón sought to ensure that Maynor would not be eligible for early release because he had two previous convictions. Although prosecutors did not seek life without parole in his case, Gascón said “this is a de facto sentence that will see Maynor spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Asking the judge to consider his background, Huntley acknowledged that Maynor would never leave prison. But the judge said his previous crimes were violent. “I have no record that he did anything positive in prison,” she said.
Dressed in a white prison shirt and seated in a wheelchair, Maynor showed no reaction when the recording of his laughter was played for court or when he was sentenced.
Security video from a nearby home captured Maynor dressed in dark clothing approaching the Forwards’ home with the AR-15 style rifle. He told detectives that once inside the house he was surprised by Jacqueline Avant, who yelled at him.
Minutes later, the camera catches him running away and turning to fire five shots at the guard, then fumbling frantically to get into his Lexus. He dropped a red gauntlet that would tie him to the crime.
“He shot Jacqueline Avant in the back with a high-caliber weapon and attempted to kill a security guard,” Avila wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “If that wasn’t enough, within an hour he decided to break into another house with the same gun.”
When the Avant home burglary failed, Maynor went to a house in the Hollywood Hills and attempted another. Shortly after, he was captured by LAPD in the backyard of that home, where he had shot himself in the foot with the gun he had used to kill Before an hour later early.
It remains unclear why Maynor targeted the Forwards’ home or if he knew which residence he had broken into.
Maynor was paroled from state prison three months before Avant was shot. According to the sentencing memorandum, he had previous convictions for theft and grievous bodily harm. His most recent theft was committed three years before he killed Avant.
According to a probation report, Maynor was 21 and homeless at the time of his first conviction for robbery, in which he pushed 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 incarcerated, he said he suffered from bipolar disorder, among other conditions, and said he was taking medication to treat schizophrenia.
“It was a horrific and tragic crime whose impact continues to traumatize his family and the entire community,” Gascón said in an interview Monday about Avant’s murder. “I wanted to hold him accountable but at the same time avoid a painful ordeal for the family. … Mr. Maynor has been in the system for 12 years. This speaks to the failure of the criminal justice system. He was ranked as the highest of the most violent offenders in the prison system.
Los Angeles Times