Rebecca Grossman Is Sentenced for Hit-and-Run Murder of 2 Boys

12 Jun 2024
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Rebecca Grossman - Figure 1
Photo The New York Times

Philanthropist Gets 15 Years to Life in Hit-and-Run Murder of 2 Boys

Prosecutors said Rebecca Grossman was driving a sport utility vehicle at more than 80 miles an hour just before she struck and killed Mark Iskander, 11, and his brother, Jacob, 8, in a crosswalk.

Rebecca Grossman, center, with her husband and daughter outside court in February. She was sentenced on Monday to 15 years to life in prison for murdering two children in 2020 a hit-and-run collision.Credit...Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times, via Getty Images

June 11, 2024, 4:38 p.m. ET

A judge on Monday sentenced a California philanthropist to 15 years to life in prison for murdering two children in a hit-and-run collision in a crosswalk while she was driving a Mercedes sport utility vehicle at more than 80 miles an hour, prosecutors said.

The woman, Rebecca Grossman, 60, of Hidden Hills, Calif., west of Los Angeles, was convicted in February of two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death, prosecutors said.

Evidence presented at Ms. Grossman’s trial indicated that she had accelerated to 81 miles per hour from 73 m.p.h. just two seconds before she hit the two children, Mark Iskander, 11, and his brother, Jacob, 8, in a 45-m.p.h. zone in Westlake Village, Calif., on the evening of Sept. 29, 2020, Los Angeles County prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Witness testimony indicated that before the crash Ms. Grossman “appeared to be racing” another Mercedes S.U.V. that was being driven by her boyfriend at the time, Scott Erickson, a former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, prosecutors wrote in the memorandum. Ms. Grossman was “at a bare minimum, ‘playing’ with him, in a deadly game of chase,” prosecutors wrote.

Ms. Grossman also drank alcohol and took Valium before driving “to the point that she was impaired,” the memorandum said.

Her blood alcohol content on two preliminary screenings was .075 percent and .076 percent, just under the legal limit of .08 percent, and on subsequent tests measured at .08 percent, .073 percent and .074 percent, the memorandum stated.

After Ms. Grossman struck the boys, she did not return to the scene or call 911, prosecutors wrote. She later claimed that Mr. Erickson had hit the children, even though there was “not a shred of evidence to prove this to be true,” prosecutors wrote.

At her sentencing hearing on Monday, Ms. Grossman addressed her driving, saying: “I never saw anyone. I would have driven into a brick wall,” The Los Angeles Times reported. Turning to Nancy Iskander, the boys’ mother, Ms. Grossman said: “My pain is a fraction of your pain,” the paper reported.

Ms. Iskander called Ms. Grossman “a coward,” the paper reported.


Nancy Iskander spoke with reporters after the driver who killed her two children in a hit-and-run collision was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.Credit...Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

The judge, Joseph A. Brandolino of Los Angeles County Superior Court, said Ms. Grossman’s actions were “reckless and unquestionably negligent” but that she was “not a monster as the prosecutors portrayed her to be,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

George Gascón, the Los Angeles County district attorney, said he was “deeply disappointed” with the sentence, which also required Ms. Grossman — who founded the Grossman Burn Foundation with her husband, Dr. Peter H. Grossman — to pay the Iskander family $47,161.89.

Prosecutors had asked that Ms. Grossman be given the maximum sentence of 34 years to life in prison, saying she had “never shown an ounce of remorse for her choices on Sept. 29, 2020.”

“She has lived a life of privilege and clearly felt that her wealth and notoriety would buy her freedom,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum.

James W. Spertus, Ms. Grossman’s lawyer, also expressed disappointment with the sentence. He said that he had asked the judge not to impose a sentence on the two murder counts and to instead sentence Ms. Grossman to six years in prison for the vehicular manslaughter counts. Ms. Grossman has appealed her conviction, Mr. Spertus said.

“Ms. Grossman lived her entire life in service to others,” Mr. Spertus said in an interview on Tuesday, pointing to her work with burn victims and calling her “a humanitarian by action, not by words.”

“People should not be judged by the single worst act they did in life,” Mr. Spertus said. In court, Mr. Spertus said, he played a 30-minute video that included testimonials about Ms. Grossman’s life and charitable work by her family and others.

In the video, Ms. Grossman’s daughter said her mother had experienced “every kind of abuse by the age of 13,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Mr. Erickson was charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving, but that charge was dismissed after he recorded a public service video about safe driving, his lawyer, Mark J. Werksman, said in an interview on Tuesday.

“He had nothing to do with the death of these boys, and categorically denies there was any racing going on,” Mr. Werksman said.



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