He shot and killed a 6-year-old whose mom flipped him off when driving. Now he’s been sentenced to 40 years

Aiden Leos, 6, was in the backseat of his mother’s car on the way to kindergarten when Marcuz Eriz shot and killed him in 2021

Katie Hawkinson
Saturday 13 April 2024 17:03 BST
Marcus Eriz sentenced to 40 years to life after killing a six-year-old in a fit of road rage in 2021

A California man will spend 40 years to life in prison after killing a six-year-old in a fit of road rage, a judge ruled Friday.

Earlier this year, a jury convicted Marcus Eriz, 27, of murdering Aiden Leos.

On 21 May 2021, Aiden was in the back seat of his mother’s car on his way to kindergarten. The two were on State Route 55 when Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, flipped off a driver in a Volkswagen who cut her off.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, pictured with a portrait of Aiden Leos, praised Eriz’s maximum sentence on Friday (AP)

Eriz was a passenger in that car — and he fired a gunshot that hit the six-year-old. Aiden later died at an Orange County, California hospital. During Eriz’s trial, it was revealed the bullet pierced Aiden’s liver, lung and heart.

Eriz was arrested two weeks later, after the California Highway Patrol launched an “intense manhunt” for the shooter. Police also arrested Wynne Lee, who drove the Volkswagen.

“The depth of pain of a mother desperately trying to find some way to help her little boy as he lay dying is excruciating,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said following Friday’s sentencing.

In January, a jury convicted Eriz of second-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and two felony enhancements of the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death.

The 27-year-old was sentenced to be held in state prison for 40 years to life, Superior Court Judge Richard King ruled on Friday.

“I am grateful Judge King realized that this wasn’t a horrible mistake; this is a cold-blooded murder who is more focused on his life after prison rather than the little boy whose life he ended before it even began,” Mr Spitzer said.

Marcus Eriz, pictured at his Friday sentencing, will spend at least 40 years in prison after killing six-year-old Aiden Leos (AP)

Meanwhile, Ms Lee is awaiting trial, facing one felony count of accessory after the fact and one misdemeanour count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle

Eriz apologised in court ahead of his sentencing, per NBC News.

“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 continued.

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