The couple accused of killing 6-year-old Aiden Leos in a road rage incident on the 55 Freeway in Orange County pleaded not guilty in the boy’s murder Tuesday, authorities said.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 25, and Wynne Lee, 23, were accused in the shocking crime that was spurred by a road rage incident as they drove on an Orange County freeway.
“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 when it was announced the two would stand trial. “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.
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Marcus Anthony Eriz, 25, was charged with one felony count of murder, one felony count of shooting into an occupied vehicle, and one felony enhancements of the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death.
Wynne Lee, 23, faces one felony count of accessory after the fact and one misdemeanor count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, according to the Orange County District Attorney.
If convicted, Eriz faces a maximum 40 years to life in prison while Lee faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison and one year in the Orange County Jail.
Aiden was shot to death May 21, 2021, while riding in his mother’s car on his way to kindergarten at Calvary Chapel in Yorba Linda.
Authorities said the boy’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, was cut off by a car on the 55 Freeway near Chapman Avenue.
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, California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Futrell testified.
When Cloonan was further north, maneuvering to merge toward the eastbound 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.
Futrell testified at the preliminary hearing how Eriz, who has a long beard and did so at the time of the shooting, shaved after the incident.
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.
The two were arrested June 6, 2021.
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.
In June 2021, Lee’s bail was reduced and she was released and she has been under GPS monitoring since.
Eriz was held without bail.
City News Service contributed to this report.