The mother of a 6-year-old boy killed in a Southern California road rage shooting testified in court Monday about the heartbreaking chains of events that unfolded nearly three years ago in the deadly freeway confrontation.
Joanna Cloonan took the stand Monday in the murder trial of 26-year-old Marcus Eriz, who is accused of opening fire on her car May 21, 2021 in a tragic car-to-car shooting on the 55 Freeway in Orange County.
Cloonan testified that she was concerned when a white Volkswagen Golf SportWagen cut her off. The driver flashed her a peace sign, which prosecutors said Cloonan might have taken as disingenuous or sarcastic.
A shot was fired after Aiden’s mother responded by displaying the middle finger, authorities said.
Prosecutors said it was a gesture she would “regret beyond comprehension.”
During opening statements last week, a prosecutor told jurors that Eriz acted callously when he fired a round that went through the trunk of the Leos’ car and into the back seat. Aiden, strapped into a booster, was struck in the liver, lung and heart.
Aiden’s mother said she heard her son say, “Ow,” pulled to the side of the freeway as he was bleeding and flagged down an off-duty police officer. When she looked in her backseat, she said his head was hanging down. Aiden’s mother said she got her son out of his booster seat and cradled him, holding his body tightly to try and stop the bleeding, but she says she noticed “his body was dying very quickly.”
The trial included the frantic 911 call from Cloonan after she stopped on the side of the road and testimony from the off-duty-officer, a member of the Seal Beach Police Department. Cloonan is expected to testify early next week.
For days after the shooting, authorities searched for a suspect and pleaded for the public’s help. They sifted through hundreds of tips and at least half a million dollars in reward money was posted.
According to police, Eriz stashed the vehicle in a relative’s garage, shaved his beard and began pulling back his hair.
Eriz and his girlfriend were arrested outside their apartment in Costa Mesa about two weeks after the shooting. Eriz and girlfriend Wynne Lee, who is charged with being an accessory after the fact and having a concealed firearm in the vehicle, are being tried separately.
As Cloonan testified, she took her time with some questions, pausing for several seconds and at times closing her eyes before answering.
It wasn’t until the very last question from the prosecution, who displayed a photo of a smiling Aiden, that Cloonan broke down in tears.
The jury will return on Wednesday for closing arguments
Source: NBC Los Angeles