Court date delayed for Avant shooting suspect

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Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — Arraignment for the man accused of killing philanthropist Jacqueline Avant was postponed for the second day in a row Dec. 8 at the Airport Branch courthouse.

Aariel Maynor, 29, of Los Angeles, is now scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 9, on one count each of murder, attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm, along with two counts of residential burglary with a person present, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The criminal complaint also includes an allegation that Maynor used an assault long barrel pistol during the crimes.

Maynor allegedly shot and killed Avant, 81, at about 2:25 a.m. Dec. 1 inside her home in the Trousdale Estates neighbor of Beverly Hills. He also is accused of shooting at a security guard — who was not wounded — during the robbery, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The Avant family issued a statement Dec. 7, thanking the community for the support they have received since the shooting.

“The outpouring of love and support from around the globe has been felt and appreciated by all of us,” the statement said. “We ask that you please allow us some time and space to grieve as a family and continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.”

The family said a Jacqueline Avant Memorial Fund will be established for the new MLK Children’s Center in Watts and said more information and a donation section can be found on the MLK Health and Wellness Development Corporation website at mlk-cdc.org.

Maynor was arrested after allegedly accidentally shooting himself while breaking into a home in the 6000 block of Graciosa Drive in Hollywood Hills roughly an hour after Avant’s shooting, authorities said.

He was suffering from a gunshot wound to a foot, apparently self-inflicted accidentally, according to Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook.

Stainbrook said Los Angeles police contacted Beverly Hills police, and detectives “collected evidence connecting Maynor” to the Avant shooting. Among the evidence collected was “a suspected weapon” from the crime, described by police as an AR-15 rifle.

Stainbrook said Maynor is on parole and has an “extensive” criminal record, which bars him from possessing a weapon.

According to court records, Maynor pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge in July 2013 and was placed on probation, but later that year, he pleaded no contest to a robbery charge and was sentenced to five years in prison. He also has a grand theft conviction from 2010, according to court records.

“The evidence thus far shows that only one suspect was involved in the crime and the motive remains under investigation,” Stainbrook said.

Video from the Avant home showed a shattered sliding-glass door, indicative of a break-in.

“Our focus now has transitioned from finding a suspect to a continuing investigation that will lead to a successful prosecution,” Stainbrook said.

Avant died at a hospital following the shooting. Her husband, Clarence Avant, 90, was not injured.

Clarence Avant is known as the Godfather of Black Music, and has been regularly celebrated by artists such as Jay-Z and Diddy, L.A. Reid and Babyface. He began as a talent manager in the 1950s, worked at Venture Records in Southern California and founded L.A.-based Sussex Records and Avant Garde Broadcasting.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October.

Jacqueline Avant served as president of the Neighbors of Watts, a support group that focused on child care. She was also on the board of directors of UCLA’s International Student Center and was a member of the board for the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Rachel Fine, the Annenberg Center’s executive director and CEO, said Avant was “the kindest, most beautiful, humble and generous soul, who loved and appreciated the Wallis. Both she and her remarkable husband, Clarence, have been passionately involved with the Wallis since its earliest days, well before our campus opened to the public.”

Jacqueline and Clarence Avant have two grown children — Nicole and Alexander. Nicole Avant, a film producer who served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during President Barack Obama’s administration, is the wife of Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. She also served as a co-producer on the Netflix film “The Black Godfather,” a documentary about her father’s life and career.

“This was a shot to the hearts of all of us,” said Michael Lawson, CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League. “She was not only gentle and kind, she was a pillar of that family. … This is not only appalling, it is senseless, and it cannot be allowed to continue.”

“This affects the entire family of Los Angeles, of the entertainment community, of the political community,” he added. “You may not know, but President Obama would not be there without Clarence Avant. Clarence Avant would not be there without Jacquie Avant and their children.

“The strength and talent and power of that family is unmatched. But their anchor was Jacquie. Their anchor is Jacquie. I will not speak of her in the past tense.”

 

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