VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With a stern voice spoken through tears, Nancy Iskander told the jury she knew who killed her two sons, based on what she saw and heard in the moments before they died.
Rebecca Grossman, a Westlake Village socialite and wife of Dr. Peter Grossman, faces two felony counts each of murder and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, plus one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death.
She was driving a white Mercedes around 7 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2020. She was leaving a Mexican restaurant happy hour and on her way home.
Prosecutors allege she and her then-boyfriend, former Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson, raced in their respective vehicles. Witnesses who testified Monday recall seeing and hearing two to three cars speeding.
One bicyclist described the force from the passing vehicles as if someone had physically tried pushing him toward the sidewalk. Another man said he was roughly a football field's length away, on the lake, when he heard the engines of the vehicles. When pressed by Grossman's defense team, neither could say with certainty that the vehicles they're referring to were the ones involved in the crash.
Prosecutors say Grossman's vehicle was traveling as fast as 81 mph. The speed limit on the street in question is 45 mph.
Around the same time as the alleged speeding, Iskander says she entered a crosswalk with her youngest son, Zachary, by her side. The two older boys, Mark, 11, and Jacob, 8, were a little over an arm's length behind, she said.
She and each of the boys were on wheels of some sort, between rollerblades, a skateboard and a scooter. Iskander said she was motivated to get the boys out of the house and spend time at the lake amid the pandemic.
While just over halfway through the crosswalk, Iskander testified seeing and hearing the two speeding vehicles. She described one, a black SUV, as slightly ahead of the other, a white SUV. Iskander says she waved but in a split decision grabbed her youngest son and dove toward the direction they were traveling. In her testimony, she stated she sees the vision of the front black bumper every night.
Iskander said she heard the engine of the first SUV as it passed, then moments later heard the engine of the second SUV along with a loud crash. She described looking back and seeing the white SUV drive right where her older boys were walking, then only saw the crosswalk.
Defense attorney Tony Buzbee challenged her in-court testimony against a previous deposition where she allegedly said she saw the white SUV hit her kids. On Monday, she clarified she heard the crash and concluded it had hit her kids based on where they were standing.
Iskander says she didn't see either vehicle stop, and described putting her youngest on the curb as she frantically looked for the older two boys. She found Jacob first. He was unconscious but had a heart beat so she says she assumed he would be OK. As soon as she found Mark, she says, she immediately knew he was dead. Iskander said it appeared he had broken every bone in his body.
A witness in the area described her screams as unlike anything they had ever heard before.
The defense suggests the family was not walking directly on the crosswalk, rather, had cheated beyond it. In opening statements, counsel argued they will provide evidence to explain their logic. Iskander remains adamant she and her boys were in the crosswalk.
Police, fire and medical officials arrived within minutes and rushed the family to the hospital, where Jacob died. Iskander says that was the first time she saw Grossman, who was also in the hospital, under arrest. She and her vehicle were found roughly a quarter of a mile from the crash site.
Defense counsel has started building its assertion that Erickson was the one who hit the boys, who then hit Grossman's SUV soon after the initial impact. Its method so far has been to show inconsistencies in testimony, and reasons why Erickson may have been intoxicated at the time of the crash. Grossman is not charged with driving under the influence.