California man who killed 6-year-old on his way to kindergarten in road-rage shooting sentenced

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LOS ANGELES — A Southern California man who shot at a car on a freeway during a road-rage incident and killed a 6-year-old who was on his way to kindergarten was sentenced Friday to the maximum possible sentence of 40 years to life in prison.

Marcus Anthony Eriz, 27, of Costa Mesa, was convicted by a jury in January of second-degree murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle for the May 21, 2021, killing of Aiden Leos.

Superior Court Judge Richard King said Aiden was “a 6-year-old in the back seat, the most vulnerable victim that you can even imagine, going to kindergarten being driven by his mom.”

Road Rage Trial Verdict in California
A photo of Aiden Leos against the courthouse wall in Santa Ana, Calif., on Jan. 25.Paul Bersebach / MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

“I don’t think the English language can even attempt, for anybody, to even describe what Aiden’s mother went through after he said ‘ouch,’” King said. “She pulls over, and her little boy dies in her arms.”

Eriz fired a shot at the car after his girlfriend, who was driving their car, cut Aiden’s mom off on State Route 55. The girlfriend gave a peace sign and Aiden’s mom flipped them off, prosecutors said.

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Eriz, in the back seat, opened the window and fired a handgun at her car. The mother heard a noise and her son cry out as she was driving away, authorities said. Aiden, who was in a car seat in the back, was struck.

Eriz apologized in court Friday.  

“He was a son, a little brother and a friend to others. He looked as if he brightened up the world everywhere he went and truly one of God’s little angels,” Eriz said. “And I am so sorry for ever hurting him, and for the pain that he went through because of me.”

“He never deserved it. And neither did his family,” Eriz said.

Eriz would have been sentenced to 15 years to life, but he was convicted of a sentencing enhancement that added an extra 25 years to life, and the judge refused to strike that enhancement.

King said he could not connect any mitigating factors, like childhood trauma or his age at the time as the defense argued, with the actions that Eriz took that day.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said that “this wasn’t a horrible mistake; this is a cold-blooded murder.”

“Marcus Eriz pulled out his gun and fired it into a moving car because he wanted to world to know what he was capable of — and what he took was the life of a little six-year-old boy and the sense of security of drivers everywhere who worry that driving on our freeways could be a death sentence, not because of a crash but because of a bullet,” Spitzer said in a statement after the sentencing.

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Eriz’s girlfriend, Wynne Lee, has been charged with one count each of accessory after the fact and having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. Her case is pending and she has pleaded not guilty.

If convicted on both counts, Lee faces up to three years in state prison and one year in the Orange County Jail, the district attorney’s office said.

The shocking violence on the freeway sparked a manhunt that ended with the pair’s arrest on June 6, 2021, around two weeks after the shooting. A reward for information had grown to more than $300,000 in the case.

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