Rebecca Grossman guilty of murder in killing of two young brothers

A jury on Friday found Rebecca Grossman guilty of murder in the killing of two young brothers who were crossing a street in Westlake Village when her speeding Mercedes hit them.

The verdict caps a legal drama that generated international attention in part because Grossman is a prominent figure who co-founded the Grossman Burn Foundation with her husband, Dr. Peter Grossman.

For the record:

6:04 p.m. Feb. 23, 2024An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Grossman’s possible sentence. She faces 34 years to life in prison.

The verdict was read in a tense, packed Van Nuys courtroom. The jury of nine men and three women found Grossman guilty of two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of hit and run in the 2020 deaths of Mark and Jacob Iskander, ages 11 and 8. She faces 34 years to life in prison and is scheduled to return to court April 10 for sentencing.

“My family has been waiting for this for three and a half years now,” Nancy Iskander, the boys’ mother, said after the decision was announced. “I give glory to God.”

Grossman’s lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, called the verdict unexpected and vowed to appeal.

As the guilty verdict was read aloud in court, Alexis Grossman, Rebecca’s daughter, cried out, “Oh my God, Oh my God,” as tears ran down her cheeks.

Rebecca Grossman, also with tears streaking her face, turned toward her daughter to try to calm her, as Peter Grossman hugged Alexis.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino said justice could no longer be delayed, and a deputy moved to handcuff Grossman.

Alexis Grossman screamed as her mother was taken into custody. Her mother begged her to stop before being escorted from the courtroom.

Throughout the six-week trial, jurors were presented with two very different versions of Grossman and the collision that ended the lives of the two young brothers.

“This was not a tragic accident,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Jamie Castro said in Wednesday’s closing arguments. “This was murder.”

But Buzbee launched into his closing statement with words he’d repeated throughout the trial: “Where is Scott Erickson?”, trying to pin responsibility for the crash on the former Dodgers pitcher.

Erickson has denied wrongdoing. Though he was at one point charged with a misdemeanor in connection with the crash, it was dismissed after he made a public service announcement for teens about the importance of safe driving.

Prosecutors alleged Grossman, 60, had cocktails with Erickson and then raced with him — he in his black Mercedes sport utility vehicle and she in her white Mercedes SUV — along Triunfo Canyon Road until they reached a crosswalk, where she fatally struck the Iskander brothers.

Grossman, Castro said, showed conscious disregard for human life and knew her speed could be dangerous on a suburban street with pedestrian traffic because police had warned her of the dangers in the past. Prosecutors also alleged that Grossman traveled a third of a mile after slamming into the children before safety features in her car automatically shut it down.

“She had a history of speeding. She’d texted about it,” Castro said. “She acted with disregard for human life.”

But throughout the trial, Buzbee continued to point the finger at Erickson, who was the first to barrel through the crosswalk. Crash reconstruction experts for the defense testified that Erickson’s Mercedes hit the boys first, sending Mark over his vehicle and onto the hood of Grossman’s vehicle.

It was around 7 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2020, when Nancy Iskander and her three sons approached the crosswalk. Wearing inline skates, Iskander began to cross Triunfo Canyon Road at Saddle Mountain Drive. Her youngest son, Zachary, was next to her on his scooter. Mark, on a skateboard, and Jacob, also wearing inline skates, were also in the crosswalk.

“The mother did everything right,” Castro said. “Rebecca Grossman did everything wrong.”

Iskander testified during the trial that she heard revving engines and looked up to see a black SUV speeding toward the intersection. She dived out of the way, pulling Zachary to safety.

But she testified that a white Mercedes SUV was following closely behind the black vehicle. When it went through the crosswalk, Iskander said, she heard an impact, and her two oldest boys were gone.

Jacob was found near the curb about 50 feet from the crosswalk. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later. Mark’s body was found 254 feet away.

Prosecutors accused Grossman of reaching 81 mph before lightly braking and hitting the brothers at 73 mph, based on the car’s data recorder and the distance Mark was found from the crosswalk. But Buzbee called in experts who testified that the data weren’t reliable and that Grossman was traveling at 52 mph based on a video captured seconds after the collision.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Ryan Gould said he was glad the Erickson argument didn’t become a distraction for the jurors.

“We thought the evidence spoke for itself,” Gould said. “As we argued in closing, there was not a shred of evidence that he was involved. And the jury obviously felt that way too.

“This is a day for the Iskanders, Mark and Jacob and the community of Westlake Village,” he said. “We got justice for the children.”

Karim and Nancy Iskander talk with media outside Van Nuys courtroom after verdict.

Karim and Nancy Iskander talk with reporters outside court Friday after the verdict in the killing of their two boys.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

After the verdict was read late Friday afternoon, Karim Iskander, the boys’ father, thanked the jury.

“Thank you for not falling into the imaginary conspiracy theories and tricks,” he said. It took “a lot of patience, so I really appreciate you getting closure.”

Nancy Iskander thanked the prosecutors for their hard work on the case.

“They went above and beyond. … They’ve done their job and and we are now ready to start our healing process,” she said. “We have a justice system that we can trust, thank God.”

She declined to comment on the upcoming sentencing, saying she would “leave that up to the judge.”

Though the boys’ parents felt justice was served in the case, Nancy Iskander said it didn’t bring her joy to see Grossman in handcuffs.

“No one wishes that on anyone,” she said. “I promise I do not have any hate for her. My heart broke for her children. … It wasn’t easy, but it will bring me closure.”

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