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California man found guilty in the road rage murder of a 6-year-old on his way to kindergarten

Marcus Anthony Eriz fired a handgun at a car after the driver gave the middle finger on an Orange County freeway.
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LOS ANGELES — A Southern California man was convicted of murder Thursday in the road rage shooting death of a 6-year-old boy who was killed after his mother gave another driver the middle finger.

Marcus Anthony Eriz, 26, of Costa Mesa, faces up to 40 years to life in prison for the May 21, 2021, death of Aiden Leos, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said.

Eriz killed Aiden “for no conceivable reason,” DA Todd Spitzer said.

“A mom literally held her son, whose heart was bleeding, on the side of the freeway here in Orange County — because of the reckless and just cold-hearted behavior of an individual who decided that he would carry a gun. And when the right time presented itself, he would use that gun,” Spitzer said.

Marcus Eriz, Road Rage Trial Verdict in California
Marcus Eriz during court proceedings in Santa Ana, Calif., on Thursday. Paul Bersebach / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Eriz was with his girlfriend, Wynne Lee, who cut off Aiden’s mother on State Route 55, officials said.

Aiden’s mother gave them the middle finger, and Eriz fired a Glock handgun at her car in response. Aiden, who was being driven to kindergarten, was struck in the back seat.

A jury convicted Eriz of second-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and two enhancements that increase the possible penalty, the district attorney’s office said.

His attorney argued that he did not intend to kill anyone. “It was just one moment of complete thoughtless act,” Randall Bethune told jurors, according to video broadcast by NBC Los Angeles.

Lee, 26, has also been charged with accessory after the fact and having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, the district attorney's office said, and faces a maximum of three years in prison if convicted.

A photo of Aiden Leos leans against the courthouse wall after prosecutors spoke to the media in Santa Ana, Calif., on January 25, 2024.
A photo of Aiden Leos leans against a courthouse window Thursday. Paul Bersebach / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

The shooting prompted a manhunt for the pair. They were arrested at their home in Costa Mesa a little more than two weeks after the shooting.

Eriz is scheduled to be sentenced April 12.

The gun law advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety said last year that road rage shooting deaths in the U.S. have increased every year since 2018, from 70 that year to 141 in 2022. More are injured.

In an unrelated case, a Maryland man was convicted Wednesday of firing into a car with a woman and her two children in Washington, D.C., in 2021, federal prosecutors there said.

Kenneth Miles Davis Jr., 45, was in rush-hour traffic in the nation's capital when he got out of his Maserati GranTurismo and opened fire into the woman's car, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said Thursday.

The children in the car were 11 and 5 years old. The woman was shot in the arm, and the 5-year-old was hurt by broken glass, but the other child was not injured, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Davis fired seven times and then shot at bystanders, prosecutors said. No bystanders were hit.