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

LOS ANGELES — A Southern California socialite was found guilty Friday of murder and other charges in the hit-and-run deaths of two young brothers at 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, as they rear-ended a car driven by then-lover Scott Erickson, a former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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

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

Attending the court proceedings “felt like attending the boys’ funeral day in and day out again,” their mother, Nancy Iskander, told reporters after the verdict. “Someone is now being held responsible. 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 that he 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 traveling at a speed of up to 80 miles per hour and hit the brakes, slowing her to 70 miles per hour less than two seconds before a collision took place that killed her caused. airbags.

The Public Prosecution Service praised the jury in a statement for its verdict.

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

Grossman’s lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, repeatedly blamed Erickson for the deaths, suggesting that the retired baseball player’s car struck Jacob, threw him into a curb and then hit Mark, putting him in 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 baseball player denies contributing in any way to the tragedy. Erickson was initially charged with a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving, but this 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 get hit, but three eyewitnesses said 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 the care and support of burn survivors.

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

Under prosecution, Peter Grossman said that of the hundreds of times he rode with Rebecca Grossman, he could not remember her ever speeding.