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Published on April 12, 2024
Road Rage Ruin, Costa Mesa Man Gets 40 to Life for Killing 6-Year-Old Aiden Leos on the FreewaySource: Orange County District Attorney's Office

A Costa Mesa man, sentenced today, will spend 40 years to life behind bars for the freeway slaying of a 6-year-old boy in a case that's drawn national attention. Marcus Anthony Eriz, 27, shot Aiden Leos while the child rode in his car seat, on his way to kindergarten, after Aiden's mother gestured at the car Eriz rode in, according to Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Following a turbulent trial, Eriz was convicted of second-degree murder and additional firearms offenses, KTLA reports. Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer reflected on the gravity of the child's death, sharing, "The depth of pain of a mother desperately trying to find some way to help her little boy as he lay dying is excruciating," an emotional gut punch for a community already reeling from the senseless act.

On May 21, 2021, the tragedy unfolded on the 55 Freeway, when Aiden's mother, Joanna Cloonan, flipped off the driver of a vehicle that had cut her off — a gesture met with fatal consequences. Aiden later succumbed to his injuries at the Children's Hospital of Orange County, while Eriz, alongside his girlfriend Wynne Lee, facilitated an intensive manhunt that ended with their arrest on June 6, 2021, Hoodline reports.

While Eriz has been handed his sentence, Lee, alleged to have been at the wheel during the shooting, faces her own day in court, charged with accessory after the fact and possession of a concealed firearm, with the possibility of four years in prison if convicted.

The DA's office expressed the scale of the crime, stating, "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," as per the Orange County District Attorney's Office. The county thus remains haunted by an act that took more than just a young life: it robbed a collective feeling of safety on local roads.