Jury convicts Southern California socialite in 2020 hit-and-run deaths of two young brothers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California socialite was found guilty Friday of murder and other charges in the hit-and-run deaths of two young brothers in a crosswalk more than three years ago.

Authorities said Rebecca Grossman, wife of a prominent Los Angeles burn doctor, fatally struck Mark Iskander, 11, and brother Jacob, 8, while speeding behind a car driven by then-lover Scott Erickson, a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher.

The jury found Grossman guilty on all counts: Two felony counts each of second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter, and one felony count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death. She faces 34 years to life in prison.

The deadly crash occurred on the evening of Sept. 29, 2020, in Westlake Village, a city on the western edge of Los Angeles County.

Attending the court proceedings “felt like I am attending the funeral of the boys again, day after day,” their mother, Nancy Iskander, told reporters after the verdict. “Someone is now held accountable. Mark and Jacob did not die, Mark and Jacob were murdered.”

Grossman was not charged with being under the influence, but former baseball player Royce Clayton testified he had joined her and Erickson at a nearby restaurant where Erickson had two margaritas and Grossman had one, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prosecutors presented evidence that the data recorder in Grossman’s white Mercedes showed she was speeding at up to 81 mph (130 kph) and tapped her brakes, slowing her to 73 mph (117 kph), less than two seconds before a collision that set off her airbags.

The district attorney’s office commended the jury for its ruling in a statement.

“This decision underscores our commitment to holding accountable those who drive with total disregard for human life,” the statement said. “We know that this guilty verdict can never replace their lives but we hope it may provide some peace for the Iskander family as they continue a life-long journey of healing from this tragedy.

Grossman’s lead defense attorney, Tony Buzbee, repeatedly blamed Erickson for the deaths, suggesting the retired baseball player’s car hit Jacob, hurling him to a curb, and then hit Mark, throwing him into the path of Grossman’s Mercedes, the Times reported.

Buzbee did not immediately return a request for comment after the verdict was read.

An attorney for Erickson has said the former ballplayer denies contributing in any way to the tragedy. Erickson was initially charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving but it was dismissed after he made a public service announcement, the Times said.

Nancy Iskander testified that the black SUV did not hit her sons but could have hit her and her 5-year-old son, Zachary. She said she dove out of the way and pulled Zachary to safety.

The mother said she did not see Mark and Jacob being struck but three eyewitnesses testified they saw a white or light-colored vehicle hit the boys.

Grossman’s husband, Dr. Peter Grossman, medical director of the Grossman Burn Centers, was called to testify by his wife’s defense. The Grossmans are founders of the Grossman Burn Foundation, which promotes care and support of burn survivors.

Peter Grossman said he and his wife were separated at the time, living separate lives under the same roof while dating other people. His wife was involved with Erickson in 2020, he testified.

Under prosecution questioning, Peter Grossman said that out of the hundreds of times he rode with Rebecca Grossman he had no recollection of her ever speeding.

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