Man charged with murder of boy in road-rage shooting
A man was charged Tuesday with murder in a Southern California road rage shooting that killed a 6-year-old boy on a freeway last month, stunning the region and attracting national attention.
Prosecutors in Orange County charged Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, with murder in the death of Aiden Leos, shooting at an occupied vehicle and with sentencing enhancements. Eriz’s girlfriend, Wynne Lee, was charged with being an accessory after the fact and illegally carrying a concealed firearm.
Authorities said they believe Lee was driving the car and that Eriz fired the shot that killed Leos while his mother was driving the boy to kindergarten on May 21 in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles.
“With respect to the charges against both, I absolutely am convinced they’re rock solid,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told reporters.
The couple appeared for a Superior Court hearing via video Tuesday but didn’t enter a plea. Their arraignment was postponed to June 18 and a judge set their bail at $2 million for Eriz and $500,000 for Lee pending that hearing.
Eriz could face 40 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts. Lee faces up to three years in prison and one year in county jail.
The case drew widespread outrage in the county of 3 million people. At least $500,000 in rewards had been offered from around the U.S. for information leading to an arrest and authorities said they received hundreds of tips before the couple was arrested Sunday in the city of Costa Mesa.
According to accounts from Leos’ mother and witnesses who stopped to help her after the shooting, another car cut her off and she responded with a hand gesture and the car slipped in behind her and someone inside fired a shot through the rear of her car.
California Highway Patrol officials have said that the road rage violence stemmed from “a perceived unsafe lane change.”
Eriz and Lee were arrested Sunday outside of their apartment in Costa Mesa.
Local elected officials on Tuesday thanked community members for raising the reward money and calling in tips to help solve the case.
“In a civilized community, we should be able to drive our kid to school and not worry that they’re going to be shot in the back,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley.
Authorities said the car, described as a white Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, was relatively rare and that helped investigators who examined surveillance footage. It was found at Eriz’s grandmother’s house in Whittier, but she is not implicated in the crime, the Orange County Register reported.
The gun was discovered at Eriz’s workplace in San Bernardino County, officials said.
Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to show the boy was shot on May 21, not April 21.