SANTA ANA, Calif.—A Costa Mesa couple was ordered on March 30 to stand trial in connection with the fatal road rage shooting of a 6-year-old boy on a freeway in Costa Mesa.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 25, and Wynne Lee, 23, were both held to answer on charges following a preliminary hearing on Wednesday. They were scheduled to be arraigned on April 12.
Eriz is accused of fatally shooting Aiden Leos on the northbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway on May 21, 2021. Lee is accused of being an accessory after the fact.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Kevin Futrell testified how Eriz, who had a long beard at the time of the shooting, shaved after the incident.
Futrell testified how the two got into a road-rage dispute with Aiden's mother on the freeway, which led to Eriz allegedly firing a shot into the rear of the vehicle.
The bullet ripped through the trunk and struck Aiden, who was in a car seat on the rear passenger side of his mother's car.
Aiden's mother, Joanna Cloonan, was taking her son to kindergarten in her Chevrolet Sonic at about 8 a.m. when she was cut off by the defendants, who were in a Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, according to authorities.
Lee, who was driving, swung over out of the diamond lane to the fast lane, punched the gas, and then pulled in front of Cloonan, prosecutors said. Lee made a peace sign to Cloonan, Futrell testified.
When Cloonan was further north, maneuvering to merge toward the eastbound Riverside (91) Freeway, she passed the defendants and flipped them off with the middle finger, Futrell testified.
She heard her son say "Ow," and immediately pulled over to see that Aiden suffered a chest wound, prosecutors said. The boy was pronounced dead later that morning in a hospital.
Lee's attorney, Tom Nocella, said his client never made any attempt to change her appearance or evade authorities, but Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman argued that she understood she was helping her boyfriend in covering up the crime by taking the car, which authorities were looking for, and leaving it a relative's home so they could use a different car.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Larry Yellin said "It does appear to the court the felonies and misdemeanors have been committed," and ordered the two to stand trial.
Eriz is charged with second-degree murder and a felony count of discharge of a firearm at an inhabited dwelling, with sentencing enhancements for discharge of a firearm causing death. He faces up to 40 years to life in prison if convicted.
Lee faces up to four years behind bars if convicted of a felony count of being an accessory after the fact and a misdemeanor count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. Three of those years would be in prison and one in jail.
"A monster with a gun murdered a little boy on his way to kindergarten—because he was cut off on the freeway," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. "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.
"I made it very clear that they needed to turn themselves in and I would take that into consideration and they continued to hide. I'm extremely grateful to the CHP and their investigators who worked tirelessly to solve this case. Together, we will never stop fighting for justice for Aiden and hold this coldblooded killer accountable."