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Parolee pleads guilty to murder of 81-year-old Beverly Hills philanthropist

The December murder was one of several high-profile crimes that rocked Beverly Hills last year.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A parolee pleaded guilty to the murder of Jacqueline Avant, a prominent 81-year-old Beverly Hills philanthropist and wife of legendary music entrepreneur Clarence Avant, during a burglary attempt this past December.

Aariel Maynor, 30, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder, attempted murder of Avant's security guard, possession of a firearm by a felon, as well as two counts of first-degree residential burglary with person present, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.

“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.”

The murder of Avant, for decades a high-profile fundraiser for Black politicians in LA and California and a board member of charitable organizations such as the UCLA International Student Center, was one of several headline-grabbing crimes that have rocked the affluent enclave last year. Last month, two South LA gang members were sentenced to 10 years in prison for a brazen, lunch-time robbery of a Beverly Hills restaurant.

The increase in violent crime in areas unused to this, as well as in many other parts of LA County, has also been fodder for critics of Gascón, who blame the DA's more progressive policies, such as not seeking cash bail for misdemeanor, nonviolent and non-serious felony offenses, for the surge.

The DA last month announced that he was adjusting some of his policies to deal with unusual situations, such as the recent sentence of a 26-year-old child molester who was prosecuted as a juvenile for a 2014 case and then gloated about the light sentence she received.

Maynor was arrested shortly after the murder of Avant, when he shot himself in the foot at a second attempted burglary the same night. He had been paroled in September last year, just months before he killed Avant.

Avant's husband, Clarence Avant, was home at the time of the shooting but not hurt. The 91-year-old Avant is known as "The Black Godfather" for his long career as music executive and entrepreneur.

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