Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that a man pleaded guilty March 3 to murdering philanthropist Jacqueline Avant and attempting to kill her security guard during a robbery at her Beverly Hills home in December.
“This crime continues to shock the conscience. Mrs. Avant’s death was a tragic loss felt by our entire community,” Gascón said. “In this case, the defendant is facing 170 years to life in prison and is ineligible for elderly parole. Our Bureau of Victim Services will continue to be in contact with the family and their representatives to offer trauma-informed services.”
Aariel Maynor, 30, entered an open plea to one count each of first-degree murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon as well as two counts of first-degree residential burglary with person present. He also admitted an allegation that he used an assault long-barrel pistol during the crimes.
Maynor is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30 in Department W31 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Airport Branch. The judge has the discretion to sentence him up to 170 years to life in prison.
On Dec. 1, Maynor broke into Avant’s Beverly Hills home and fatally shot the 81-year-old victim. He also shot at a security guard, who was not injured.
Later that night, Maynor allegedly shot himself accidentally while breaking into a house in the Hollywood Hills, prosecutors said.
The case was investigated by the Beverly Hills Police Department.
Avant, a native of Queens, N.Y., was married to Clarence Avant, a legendary music executive who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October and was profiled in the Netflix documentary “The Black Godfather.” The couple’s daughter Nicole served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during the Obama Administration.
A passionate collector of Japanese lacquerware, Avant supported the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s efforts in Japanese arts and education, volunteering as a docent in LACMA’s Pavilion for Japanese Art, helping underwrite an acquisition of an incense box by lacquer artist Yamamura Shinya, a contemporary print by Hasegawa Yūichi with lacquer used as pigment, and, with her husband, supporting acquisitions of three Kakiemon porcelain pieces, a book of modernist designs by Furuya Kōrin, and an ink painting of a hawk by Tenryū Dōjin.
Avant served as co-president of the Nichi Bei Fujin Kai from 2016 to 2018 and helped it to celebrate its 90th anniversary last year. She contributed to mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan for many years and introduced Japanese culture to the U.S. through exhibitions at Scripps College and the Crow Museum of Asian Art in Dallas.
Avant facilitated The Huntington’s acquisition in 2016 of a 320-year-old magistrate house from Marugame, Kagawa Prefecture, the historic home of Yohko and Akira Yokoi, which is currently being restored and will be a centerpiece of the Japanese garden. It will also be used to display Avant’s lacquerware collection.