Suspect charged with murder in road rage shooting death of Aiden Leos

Charges have been filed against the two suspects in the road rage killing of 6-year-old Aiden Leos on the 55 Freeway last month, the Orange County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

The suspected gunman, Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, has been charged with murder and discharge of a gun into an occupied vehicle, with sentencing enhancements for firing a firearm and causing great bodily injury or death while in the commission of a murder.

Wynne Lee, who authorities say was driving the car, has been charged with one felony count of accessory after the fact and a misdemeanor count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. Prosecutors say Lee, 23, concealed the shooting, which led to the accessory charge.

The charges against Eriz mean he could face 40 years to life in prison if convicted, while Lee faces up to three years in prison and one year in jail if convicted of her two charges. They are expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.

The couple were taken into custody Sunday at their home in Costa Mesa, more than two weeks after Aiden was fatally shot while riding in a booster seat in the back of his mother’s car. The boy was struck by a bullet in an apparent act of road rage on the Orange County freeway, authorities said.

Photograph of 6-year-old Aiden Leos on his memorial service program.

(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

On the morning of May 21, Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, told motorist Reyes Valdivia that she and her son were in the carpool lane when another car cut her off as she started switching lanes to exit.

She made an obscene gesture toward the people inside the other car and continued trying to get off the freeway.

Officials think the driver of the car that cut off Cloonan then maneuvered the vehicle behind her car and one of the people inside fired a gun at her car.

A bullet entered Cloonan’s car from the rear, striking her son through his back.

She pulled over and took the bleeding boy into her arms until paramedics arrived. Doctors could not save him.

“It could’ve happened to any one of us,” Spitzer said while holding up a photograph of Aiden during a news conference Monday. “We all drive the freeways of Southern California. We’ve all gotten upset at other motorists, other motorists have gotten upset at us. I’ve thrown some gestures about myself. But it’s never come to a situation of violence and certainly not in my realm or your realm, to the loss of a life.”

Louis Shapiro, a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, said Monday that Spitzer was more likely to file a second-degree murder charge, for which requires the prosecution to demonstrate to a jury that the shooter “acted deliberately with conscious disregard for human life.”

Authorities believe Lee was driving that day and Eriz fired the shot that killed Aiden. Neither of the suspects nor their attorneys could be reached for comment.

Shapiro said it would be difficult to prove first-degree murder because the shooting does not appear to have been premeditated.

California Highway Patrol officials said Monday they had recovered the gun and the vehicle used in the shooting. A source with the agency said that the car was in the garage of a Whittier home belonging to one of Eriz’s relatives and that the relative has been away from the home.

Other details have emerged about Eriz and Lee in the days following their arrest.

Eriz grew up in Weaverville near Redding, with family in the Whittier area. He worked at an auto body shop in Corona and often shared content on social media about cars and guns. He posted several pictures and videos of himself shooting an array of assault-style rifles and pistols outdoors and at a shooting range. One of the weapons he displayed was capable of delivering the shot that killed Aiden, officials said.

Eriz reportedly left the auto body shop in January, but in recent weeks, he texted and asked for his job back, his former boss told KCBS-TV Channel 2.

Lee grew up in Diamond Bar, where she attended Diamond Bar High School and Mt. San Antonio Community College.

Surveillance, investigation and tips all played a part in identifying Eriz and Lee, officials said.

The process began shortly after the shooting with investigators circulating an image of a white vehicle said to belong to the suspects.

In the weeks that followed, officials received hundreds of calls and emails, they said. A reward funded by family members, donations, county officials and local businesses climbed to $500,000.

Calling it an “intensive manhunt,” CHP Border Division Assistant Chief Don Goodbrand said several agencies, including the Highway Patrol, the Orange County D.A.’s office and other law enforcement officials and leadership in Orange County and Southern California helped with the case.

“Never in my 25-year career have I witnessed those components work together so strongly to solve a crime as I have during this investigation,” he said.

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