Aiden Leos, 6, was killed in an alleged road-rage incident.
A couple charged in the alleged road-rage shooting death of 6-year-old Aiden Leos on the 55 Freeway in Orange County last year will stand trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 25, faces one felony count each of murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle, and a felony enhancement of the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death, prosecutors said. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum sentence of 40 years to life in state prison.
Wynne Lee, 23, faces a felony count of being an accessory after the fact and a misdemeanor count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, prosecutors said. They face a maximum sentence of three years in state prison and one year in Orange County jail if convicted on all counts.
Lee was released from custody on electronic monitoring and is prohibited from driving a vehicle, among other conditions of their release, said Kimberly Edds, a spokesperson for the Orange County district attorney’s office. Eriz remained in custody without bail Wednesday.
After an hourlong preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Larry Yellin ruled there was enough evidence for Eriz and Lee to stand trial, Edds said.
The couple were arrested at their Costa Mesa home in June following a 16-day manhunt.
Eriz and Lee were driving to work in the carpool lane of the 55 Freeway around 8 a.m. May 21 when they approached a Chevrolet Sonic, which Joanna Cloonan was driving to take her son Aiden to kindergarten, according to court documents. Lee maneuvered their Volkswagen Golf SportWagen into the lane immediately to the right of the carpool lane before speeding back into the carpool lane and cutting off Cloonan, gesturing a peace sign in the process.
After a few miles, when Cloonan exited the carpool lane to make her way to the 91 Freeway, she passed the Volkswagen and raised her middle finger at Lee and Eriz, the documents stated.
Eriz told investigators June 6 that he reacted angrily to being “flipped off” and grabbed his loaded Glock 17, a 9-millimeter pistol, according to the documents. He rolled down the passenger window and shot at Cloonan’s car, the documents stated.
The bullet entered Cloonan’s car from the rear, striking her son through his back. She heard the bang of the gun and a cry from Aiden.
As Cloonan pulled over and took the dying boy into her arms, Lee continued driving onto the 91 Freeway to Highland, where the couple completed a day of work, according to the court documents.
Aiden was taken to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where he was declared dead at 8:39 a.m.
His death sparked widespread community outrage and an outpouring of support for the family.
Investigators sifted through tips and worked to enhance an image of the license plate on the Volkswagen, which led them to identify the couple. They determined that Eriz and Lee commuted along the 91 corridor to two workplaces in the Inland Empire.
After prosecutors’ call for the suspects to turn themselves in was ignored, authorities arrested Eriz and Lee on June 6 at their home.
“A monster with a gun murdered a little boy on his way to kindergarten — because he was cut off on the freeway,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “The callousness of this crime is unspeakable, but the fact that this couple continued to hide out in plain sight knowing full well they killed a 6-year-old child while Aiden’s grieving parents pleaded with the killers to come forward is unforgivable.”
During Wednesday’s hearing, a California Highway Patrol officer was called as the sole witness and laid out the known facts of the case, Edds said.
A trial date was not set. Eriz and Lee’s next court date is an April 12 arraignment.
Prosecutors have also alleged that the May 21 shooting wasn’t the only road rage incident involving Eriz and Lee.
Days after Aiden’s death, Eriz is believed to have brandished a gun at the driver of a blue Tesla on the 91 Freeway near Corona while Lee drove, prosecutors said.
Authorities are asking anyone who had interactions involving a gun with a white Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, model year 2018 to 2019, on the 55 Freeway in Orange County or the 91 Freeway in Orange and Riverside counties to come forward.
The road rage incidents would have occurred between December 2020 and June 2021, prosecutors said.
Tips can be submitted at (714) 834-7000 or [email protected].