Justice served for Iskander family after three years of grief

After a six-week trial and two days of deliberation by a nine-man, three-woman jury, Rebecca Grossman, 60, was found guilty for two felony counts of second-degree murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death. Her sentencing is set for April 10, where she faces a potential prison term of 34 years to life.

On Sept. 29, 2020, two boys were struck and killed as they passed through a crosswalk with their family in Westlake Village. 11-year-old Mark Iskander died on the scene, and his 8-year-old brother, Jacob Iskander passed away at the hospital.

At the scene, Grossman’s breathalyzer test revealed that her blood-alcohol level was around 0.075%. However, three hours later, her level was at 0.08%, which is California’s legal limit. Grossman tested positive for benzodiazepines, according to a criminologist with the L.A. County Crime Lab.

Prior to the crash, Grossman stated that she had been driving to her house after meeting with her then-boyfriend, Scott Erickson, a former professional baseball player, and his friend for drinks. According
to a witness testimony, Grossman was driving a white Mercedes SUV and Erickson was driving a black Mercedes SUV. Grossman’s
defense team stated that Erickson’s black SUV hit the children before she did, and that the boys were through the crosswalk during the crash.

While Rebecca Grossman did not testify herself, her 19-year-old daughter, Alexis Grossman, and her husband, Peter Grossman testified. Alexis Grossman placed the blame on Erickson, claiming that he showed up to her house after the crash and threatened her by saying: “Don’t tell anyone you saw me, or I will ruin you and your family.” Originally, Erickson was charged with misdemeanor reckless driving, which was eventually dismissed after he made a public announcement on driving safely. Alexis Grossman claimed her mother’s lawyers recommended her not to come forward with the threat in the beginning.

To find Grossman guilty of a second degree murder, prosecutors had to
prove that she conducted “implied malice”. It also needed to be affirmed that Grossman understood the consequences of driving at “freeway speeds” on a suburban street and therefore knew she was a threat to people.

Deputy District Attorney, Jamie Castro, argued that Grossman was aware she was a danger to human life, as she was warned by police for her speed in the past. Prosecutors have also claimed that allegedly Grossman traveled one third of a mile before vehicle safety features shut the car down.

William Broadhead, a specialist in airbags and vehicle safety, also testified for the defense. During a conversation about motorized vehicle restraint, Broadhead affirmed that airbags should not go off during a pedestrian strike. However, Grossman declared she was badly bruised by the airbags. Her husband showed the court images of the bruising that followed the crash. There were also text messages shown from Grossman to her massage therapist, complaining about the bruising.

Tony Buzbee, Grossman’s lead attorney, closed his statement with his often used line: “Where is Scott Erickson?” He claims that Erickson was the first to travel through the crosswalk and reconstruction experts testifying for the defense say he hit the boys first, sending them onto the hood of Grossman’s car. Allegedly, Erickson lied to the police insisting he was driving a 2007 Mercedes SUV, although a defense video portrays him driving a 2016 AMG Mercedes.

On Friday, Feb. 23, the verdict of the trial was announced to the public, and Rebecca Grossman was immediately placed into custody. While walking out of the courtroom after the verdict was read, Nancy Iskander and Karim Iskander, parents of Mark and Jacob Iskander, spoke to the press.

When seeing Rebecca Grossman put in handcuffs, Nancy Iskander says it was heartbreaking. “No one wishes that on anyone. I promise, I do not have any hate for her. My heart broke for her children. When her son was there, I saw Mark, who would be 15 now. I’m a mother, so it wasn’t easy, but it will bring me closure,” Nancy Iskander said.

After three years of mourning and grief, the Iskander family believes it is
time to start the healing process. “I hope everyone heals, I hope everyone learns from this experience, including everyone involved from both sides and also the community. And hopefully this saves lives and other kids in the future,” Karim Iskander said.