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Aiden Leos suspected road rage murder suspect faces “depraved heart” murder charge

Orange County prosecutors said they would try to prove that the man accused of killing 6-year-old Aiden Leos in a road rage shootout on Highway 55 committed the crime with “premeditated malice”, a charge which, if confirmed by a jury, could carry a sentence of 40 years to life.

Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, has been charged with murder and unloading a gun in an occupied vehicle. His arrangement on Tuesday was postponed until later this month, and he did not present a plea. Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

Here’s what we know about the fees:

What is “premeditated maliciousness”

“Express malice” means that the accused intended to kill the victim. “Implied malice” means that the accused demonstrated a conscious disregard for human life.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said he believed he could prove the implicit wickedness using the “depraved heart” theory.

To win a depraved cardiac murder case, prosecutors must prove that a suspect displayed depraved indifference to human life and recklessly engaged in conduct that created a serious risk of death for another person. and caused his death.

“Our theory today is that this is reckless indifference to life,” Spitzer said.

“We would not make these charges unless we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt,” Spitzer added.

Louis Shapiro, a defense attorney from Los Angeles, said the prosecution could be a challenge.

“It is a horrible act, but proving wickedness by forethought is very difficult to prove. The facts of this case do not appear at first glance to be a premeditated malicious act and rather an impromptu decision,” Shapiro said.

Depraved heart charges were used in other high-profile cases, including against police officers in the Freddie Gray murder case in Baltimore in 2015. Those charges were ultimately dropped.

What do the authorities say happened?

Aiden was fatally shot on the morning of May 21 while in the back of his mother’s car on his way to kindergarten.

Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, told another motorist that she and her son were in the carpool lane when another car cut her off as she began to change lanes to exit.

She made an obscene gesture towards the people in the other car, who then maneuvered behind her and shot at her vehicle, officials said.

A bullet entered Cloonan’s car from the rear, hitting his son in the back.

She stopped and hugged the bleeding boy until the paramedics arrived. Doctors couldn’t save him.

“It could have happened to any of us,” Spitzer said, holding up a photo of Aiden at a press conference Monday. “We all drive on the freeways in Southern California. We all got mad at the other motorists. Other motorists got mad at us. I threw some gestures on myself. But there has never been a situation of violence and certainly not in my kingdom or yours, at the loss of a life.

What evidence has been presented by the authorities?

Spitzer said Tuesday he believed the weapon recovered by California Highway Patrol officials this week was registered in Eriz, but did not specify where it was recovered.

Monitoring, investigation and advice all played a role in identifying Eriz and Lee, officials said. But Spitzer said officials couldn’t discuss the specific techniques used in the investigation.

After circulating an image of the vehicle believed to belong to the suspects in the weeks following the shooting, investigators received hundreds of calls and emails. An award funded by family members, donations, county officials and local businesses soared to $ 500,000.

Managers are still reviewing the potential distribution of this reward. Spitzer said it depended on both arrest and conviction.

And the driver?

Wynne Lee, who authorities said was driving the car Eriz was in, has been charged with one count of aiding and abetting after the fact and one count of concealing a firearm in a vehicle.

Prosecutors say Lee, 23, concealed the shooting, which led to the incidental charge.

Lee faces up to three years in prison and one year in prison if convicted on both counts.

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