Marcus Eriz, right, sits in court during his sentencing, Friday,...

Marcus Eriz, right, sits in court during his sentencing, Friday, April 12, 2024, in Santa Ana, Calif. Eriz was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life for the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy who was riding in the back of his mother's car on the freeway, prosecutors said. Credit: AP/Mark Rightmire

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California man was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life for the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy who was riding in the back of his mother's car on the freeway, prosecutors said.

Marcus Eriz, now 27, was sentenced in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana for killing Aiden Leos in May 2021 while the boy was on his way to kindergarten, the district attorney's office said in a statement.

Eriz was convicted by a jury in January of second-degree murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle.

“What he took was the life of a little six-year-old boy and the sense of security of drivers everywhere who worry that driving on our freeways could be a death sentence, not because of a crash but because of a bullet,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement.

An email message seeking comment was sent to Eriz's attorney, Randall Bethune.

During the trial, authorities said Eriz and his girlfriend, Wynne Lee, were heading to work when Lee cut off a car driven by Leos' mother, who responded with a rude gesture.

Eriz pulled out a gun, reached out of the window and fired a shot at the mother's car that went through the trunk and pierced Leos' heart, they said.

Marcus Eriz, left, wipes his eyes as he reads a...

Marcus Eriz, left, wipes his eyes as he reads a statement along side his attorney Deputy Public Defender Randall Bethune during his sentencing, Friday, April 12, 2024, in Santa Ana, Calif. Eriz was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life for the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy who was riding in the back of his mother's car on the freeway, prosecutors said. Credit: AP/Mark Rightmire

Eriz's defense argued that he didn’t mean to kill anyone in what began as a road rage incident and said he didn’t know he had until days later when a co-worker commented that Lee’s car looked like the one authorities were searching for.

The shooting shocked the county of 3 million people, which relies heavily on a network of freeways to get to work and school, and drew international attention as authorities searched more than two weeks for the killer.

Authorities arrested Eriz and Lee outside their apartment in Costa Mesa after chasing leads to the white car Lee was driving. Lee has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact and is being tried separately.

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