The two suspects in the road rage killing of 6-year-old Aiden Leos on the 55 Freeway last month are expected to be arraigned Tuesday, but the exact charges they face remain unclear.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said a decision would be made by 10 a.m. on what charges would be filed.
“We are reviewing the evidence, and we’re looking at every single legal theory in conjunction with that evidence,” he said.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23, were taken into custody Sunday at their home in Costa Mesa, more than two weeks after Aiden was fatally shot while riding in a booster seat in the back of his mother’s car. The boy was struck by a bullet in an apparent act of road rage on the Orange County freeway, authorities said.
On the morning of May 21, Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, told motorist Reyes Valdivia that she and her son were in the carpool lane when another car cut her off as she started switching lanes to exit.
She made an obscene gesture toward the people inside the other car and continued trying to get off the freeway.
Officials think the driver of the car that cut off Cloonan then maneuvered the vehicle behind her car and one of the people inside fired a gun at her car.
A bullet entered Cloonan’s car from the rear, striking her son through his back.
She pulled over and took the bleeding boy into her arms until paramedics arrived. Doctors could not save him.
“It could’ve happened to any one of us,” Spitzer said while holding up a photograph of Aiden. “We all drive the freeways of Southern California. We’ve all gotten upset at other motorists, other motorists have gotten upset at us. I’ve thrown some gestures about myself. But it’s never come to a situation of violence and certainly not in my realm or your realm, to the loss of a life.”
Louis Shapiro, a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, said Spitzer is more likely to file a second-degree murder charge, for which requires the prosecution to demonstrate to a jury that the shooter “acted deliberately with conscious disregard for human life.”
Authorities believe Lee was driving that day and Eriz fired the shot that killed Aiden. Neither of the suspects nor their attorneys could be reached for comment.
Shapiro said it would be difficult to prove first-degree murder because the shooting does not appear to have been premeditated.
California Highway Patrol officials said Monday they had recovered the gun used in the shooting.
Surveillance, investigation and tips all played a part in identifying Eriz and Lee, officials said.
The process began shortly after the shooting with investigators circulating an image of a white vehicle said to belong to the suspects.
In the weeks that followed, officials received hundreds of calls and emails, they said. A reward funded by family members, donations, county officials and local businesses climbed to $500,000.
Calling it an “intensive manhunt,” CHP Border Division Assistant Chief Don Goodbrand said several agencies, including the Highway Patrol, the Orange County D.A.’s office and other law enforcement officials and leadership in Orange County and Southern California helped with the case.
“Never in my 25-year career have I witnessed those components work together so strongly to solve a crime as I have during this investigation,” he said.