Watch CBS News

California man found guilty of murder in 2021 road rage killing of 6-year-old

Jury finds gunman who shot and killed 6-year-old in road rage shooting guilty
Jury finds gunman who shot and killed 6-year-old in road rage shooting guilty 02:46

26-year-old Marcus Anthony Eriz was found guilty of second-degree murder in a road rage shooting that killed 6-year-old Aiden Leos on the 55 Freeway back in 2021. 

The verdict was announced on Wednesday by the Orange County District Attorney's Office. Eriz faces up to 40 years to life in prison.

Eriz's girlfriend, 26-year-old Wynee Lee, was driving the vehicle at the time of the shooting. She is awaiting trial for being an accessory after the fact.   

Marcus Eriz was convicted of murder in the 2021 road rage killing of a 6-year-old boy. His girlfriend Wynne Lee was charged with being an accessory after the fact. Orange County District Attorney's Office

Related: Who Is Marcus Eriz, man found guilty in road rage shooting of 6-year-old Aiden Leos

Aiden was sitting in a booster seat when he was fatally shot on May 21, 2021, while his mother, Joanna Cloonan, was driving him to kindergarten.

The dispute started when Lee cut off Cloonan, forcing her to suddenly brake to avoid a collision. Lee flashed a peace sign at Cloonan, which "angered" her and she gave a hand gesture back. Lee then slipped in behind Cloonan when shots were fired at the rear of her car.

An undated photo of 6-year-old Aiden Leos at the Orange County Zoo.  Leos family

The bullet went through the vehicle's trunk, backseat and then through Aiden's car seat before hitting him. Aiden was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The couple drove away after firing the weapon and both were taken into custody 2 weeks later.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman argued for a second-degree murder conviction while Eriz's attorney, Randall Bethune of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, advocated for a voluntary manslaughter conviction.

Eriz opted not to testify on his behalf, leaving his hour-long statement to investigators to explain his actions.

The main legal issue in the trial is whether Eriz had time to reflect in the moments he reached into the backseat of the vehicle, grab the weapon, roll down the window, and point and shoot at Cloonan's car. 

Feldman said it showed what lawyers refer to as "implied malice," while Bethune argued that Cloonan's insulting them with a middle-finger provided enough provocation to knock it down from murder to manslaughter.

Eriz's actions to grab the gun and fire it out the window met the legal burden for implied malice murder, Feldman argued. "This took thought," he said. "This wasn't an example of accidental discharge." 

Following the reading of the verdict, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer spoke at a press conference. 

"A mom literally held her son whose heart was bleeding on the side of a freeway here in Orange County," Spitzer said. "Because of the reckelss and just cold-hearted behavior of an individual, who decided that he would carry a gun and when the right time presented itself he would use that to take a human life or at least to scare somebody to the point of being completely reckless."

Wynne Lee faces a separate trial for her part in the incident, but the case has not yet reached that point. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.