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The man accused of gunning down California philanthropist Jacqueline Avant has pleaded not guilty to her murder and other charges, prosecutors said this week.
Aariel Maynor, 29, was charged with murder in Avant’s slaying earlier this month, as well as attempted murder related to the botched home invasion that left the 81-year-old socialite dead. He pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.
On Dec. 1, Avant, who is married to recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Clarence Avant, was found unresponsive at her Beverly Hills home in the 1100 block of Maytor Place, following a suspected home burglary at approximately 2:23 a.m. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Maynor also traded shots with a security guard at Avant’s home during the alleged break-in, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. Clarence Avant was also present at the time of the alleged attack. Both he and the security guard were unharmed.
Maynor, who fled the couple’s residence after the shooting, was arrested about an hour later at a separate property about six miles away in the Hollywood Hills, Oxygen.com previously reported. He was taken into custody there after accidentally shooting himself in the foot with an AR-15 rifle.
Evidence — including the suspected murder weapon, which was collected by Beverly Hills Police detectives from the second residence — allegedly linked Maynor to Avant’s killing. On Dec. 6, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office announced charges had been filed against Maynor in Avant’s death.
Maynor also faces firearm charges and two counts of residential burglary with a person present.
He is scheduled to be back in Los Angeles Municipal City Court on Jan. 1, 202. He’s currently being held without bond at Twin Towers Correctional Facility in central Los Angeles, according to online jail records.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment further on the open case when contacted by Oxygen.com on Friday morning.
Jacqueline Avant, who was renowned for her non-profit work, was a fixture in Los Angeles’ arts community. She was the president of the Neighbors of Watts, a Los Angeles child care centers support group. She was born in Jamaica, Queens, according to a biography on her IMDB profile.
“Mrs. Avant was a treasured member of our community,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “Her generosity and goodwill touched so many lives.”
“She was a friend, a confidante, sometimes a mother figure who offered emotional support, and a source of wisdom, both aesthetic and spiritual,” the Los Angeles County Museum of Art said in a statement. “Much has been spoken of her involvement with institutions and people who make a difference in Los Angeles and across the country.”
If convicted in Avant’s homicide, Maynor faces a maximum punishment of life in prison. The 29-year-old has an extensive criminal history, including prior police arrests for robbery, domestic violence and grand theft auto.
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