SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – A man charged with murder in last month’s road rage shooting that killed 6-year-old Aiden Leos on the 55 Freeway in the city of Orange – and his girlfriend, who is accused of being an accessory – pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Friday.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23 appeared in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana Friday morning.
California Highway Patrol detectives believe Lee was driving the car that was involved in the road rage incident, while Eriz was in the front passenger seat and committed the shooting itself.
Eriz pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and a felony count of discharge of a firearm at an inhabited dwelling, with sentencing enhancements for discharge of a firearm causing death.
Lee pleaded not guilty to a felony count of being an accessory after the fact and a misdemeanor count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle.
O.C. Superior Court Judge Larry Yellin denied bail for Eriz.
The couple were arrested June 6 outside their Costa Mesa apartment.
On the morning of May 21, Aiden was in a booster seat in the back of his mother’s Chevrolet Sonic, on his way to kindergarten in Yorba Linda, when the shooting occurred on the northbound 55 Freeway in the city of Orange.
The two suspects, who were in a Volkswagen station wagon, were cut off by Aiden’s mother Joanna Cloonan, according to prosecutors.
A few miles later, as Cloonan was attempting to merge over to the 91 Freeway, she passed the defendants and was “still angry about being cutoff and she put up her middle finger at the two as she passed,” prosecutors wrote in a bail motion filed Wednesday.
“She then heard a loud bang to the rear of her vehicle and heard her little boy in the backseat say, ‘Ow,’” prosecutors said.
Cloonan immediately pulled over and saw Aiden suffered a chest wound, prosecutors said. He was pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital Orange County.
In an interview with investigators on June 6, Eriz said he “was angry after being `flipped off’ by Ms. Cloonan, so he grabbed his loaded Glock 17 9mm and racked a round,” according to the motion.
“He then rolled the passenger window down and took a shot at her vehicle. After shooting the victim, the defendants continued on to the 91 eastbound and on to work in the city of Highland.”
They worked a full day and the couple returned home.
During the week of May 24-28, the two got into another “altercation on the freeway,” prosecutors said.
“As Wynne Lee was driving on the 91 eastbound on the way to work with defendant Eriz as her front passenger, a driver in a blue Tesla did something to make defendant Eriz angry, acting aggressively,” prosecutors alleged.
“Defendant Eriz again took out his gun and brandished it to the driver of the Tesla. That driver told the defendants that he had called the police and then he drove away.”
The white Volkswagen station wagon was found June 7, hidden in the garage of a Whittier home in a quiet neighborhood. Property records indicate that the homeowner, a woman, is a relative of Eriz. A neighbor said a grandmother lives in the Whittier home, but has been on vacation for several weeks.
The VW is registered to Lee’s parents.
The firearm used in the shooting was recovered, O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
Eriz has “multiple firearms in his possession,” including an “AR, a revolver and the Glock 17 that was used in this murder,” prosecutors argued.
Eriz faces a maximum sentence of 40 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts. Lee faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, plus one year in jail.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)