Rebecca Grossman found guilty of murder in Westlake Village crash that killed 2 young brothers

The nine-man, three-woman jury reached its verdict on the second day of deliberations.

Friday, February 23, 2024
Socialite Rebecca Grossman found guilty in crash that killed 2 boys
Socialite Rebecca Grossman has been found guilty of murder in the 2020 crash in Westlake Village that killed two young brothers, ages 8 and 11.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Rebecca Grossman, co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation, was convicted of second-degree murder and other charges Friday for a 2020 crash in Westlake Village that left two young brothers dead.

The nine-man, three-woman jury reached its verdict on the second day of deliberations, mulling the evidence for a total of about nine hours before rejecting a defense contention that Grossman's then-boyfriend, former Dodger Scott Erickson, was the one who fatally struck 11-year-old Mark Iskander and his 8-year-old brother, Jacob, on Sept. 29, 2020.

Grossman, 60, was convicted of two counts each of second-degree murder and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit-and-run resulting in death. She could face up to 34 years to life in state prison. She remained free throughout the trial on $2 million bond.

Sentencing was scheduled for April 10.

Grossman's daughter, Alexis, was visibly upset after the verdict was read, her mouth hanging open in the courtroom.

Speaking to reporters outside court, the boys' mother - Nancy Iskander - said she bears no hatred for Grossman, saying her heart breaks for the defendant. She also said that coming to court every day for the trial was like attending her sons' funeral again.

"[The trial] wasn't easy, but it will bring me closure,'' she said.

She praised the prosecutors who handled the case.

"They worked tirelessly, three and a half years. They went above and beyond,'' she said. "They only cared about the truth. They wanted to tell the truth. They worked against some of the most evil defense attorneys."

"We're trusting the justice system," she said. "We have a justice system you can trust, from our experience. It's not a justice system where people get away with things based on the color of their skin or their wealth or anything. If you commit a crime, you will be held accountable, so we're very thankful, and it's now time to do good in the name of Mark and Jacob."

"We're very thankful, and it's now time to do good in the name of Mark and Jacob," said Nancy Iskander.

The boy's father said it's now time for him and his family to heal.

"We have been waiting for Mrs. Grossman to apologize, to take responsibility and she just chose to fight to the end and it was heartbreaking," he said.

"It allows me to just move on and heal and not allow any hatred or any loss of peace to affect how I feel," he added. "I hope everyone heals, everyone learns from this experience, including everyone involved from all sides and hopefully this saves lives, saves other kids in the future."

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Grossman and Erickson had been out for drinks earlier that evening and were heading toward her nearby home in separate vehicles when Grossman's white Mercedes-Benz SUV struck the boys while they were crossing Triunfo Canyon Road with their parents in a marked crosswalk.

Sheriff's officials said six family members were crossing the three-way intersection -- which does not have a stoplight -- in the crosswalk when the mother heard a car speeding toward them and both parents reached out to protect two of their children, but the two boys were too far out in the intersection and were struck.

The older boy died at the scene and his 8-year-old sibling died at a hospital.

Grossman allegedly continued driving after striking the boys, eventually stopping about a quarter-mile away from the scene when her car engine stopped running, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Grossman's attorneys insisted during the case that it was Erickson who struck the boys first with his black SUV. Erickson was never called to testify in the case.

Grossman's lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, kicked off his closing argument Wednesday by asking jurors, "Where is Scott Erickson? Where is the guy?'' in the first of repeated references to Erickson, whom the prosecution said was Grossman's boyfriend at the time.

He told jurors that "Erickson hit the kids first,'' and questioned why the prosecution hadn't called the ex-baseball player during the case.

Prosecutors countered that there was "not a shred'' of evidence that Erickson struck the children, with Deputy District Attorney Ryan Gould calling that a "ridiculous theory.''

The deputy district attorney told jurors that the defense has the same right to bring people into court, prompting Grossman's attorney to quickly object that the defense "was not able to do that.''

The prosecutor said Grossman hit the children as they were in a marked crosswalk and had a "duty to stop,'' but "never returned'' to the scene. He said debris from the crash matched Grossman's white Mercedes-Benz SUV.

The deputy district attorney said that Grossman was "driving too fast,'' knew that speed kills'' and was "impaired.''

Grossman lied about how many alcoholic beverages she consumed, according to the prosecutor, who acknowledged that a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who performed a field sobriety test on Grossman had "made mistakes.''

The prosecutor questioned whether it would be worse if the woman was sober when she made the decision to speed, saying that she was "flooring it.''

The prosecution alleged that Grossman was speeding at 81 mph in a 45-mph zone just seconds before impact, and that data from the vehicle's so-called black box showing that she was driving 73 mph at the time of the crash was reliable.

In her closing argument Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Jamie Castro told the jury that Grossman "continued driving as far as her car would let her'' before the vehicle's engine cut off about one-third of a mile away.

But Grossman's lead attorney had told jurors in his closing argument that Grossman was traveling at 54 mph "at best'' and that she didn't know why her airbags had deployed. He said the vehicle rolled to a stop after the collision, and disputed the prosecution's contention that she was impaired and fled the scene.

Buzbee alleged that authorities failed to properly investigate the crash and determine who actually hit the boys.

He called the case a "rush to judgment,'' saying they "put their blinders on'' and didn't consider that anyone else might be responsible for the crash.

At the end of the day Thursday, the jury asked to hear a read-back of trial testimony that centered on the placement of the pedestrians in the crosswalk, the position of the vehicles as they approached the crosswalk and what the victim's mother, Nancy, saw and heard immediately before, during and after she jumped out of the way with her youngest son to avoid being hit by the black SUV before Grossman's white Mercedes-Benz SUV passed through the crosswalk. The defense contended that the boys were not in the crosswalk when they were struck.

Jurors also asked to re-hear former Major League Baseball player Royce Clayton's response to Buzbee's question about why he and Erickson are no longer friends.

"I have kids ... I just don't understand how he could be so negligent and be responsible for running down kids,'' Clayton said in his testimony Jan. 29. The judge rejected a subsequent effort by Clayton to return to the stand to clarify what he meant.

City News Service contributed to this report.