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The murder trial of a Los Angeles socialite accused of hitting and killing two brothers in a crosswalk could start as early as this spring, according to the Ventura County Star.
Rebecca Grossman, 59, has pleaded not guilty to felony murder, vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run driving in the Sept. 29, 2020 deaths of Jacob Iskander, 8, and his brother Mark Iskander, 11, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.
Grossman allegedly reached speeds of up to 81 miles per hour in her Mercedes Benz before hitting the brothers as they walked with their parents and siblings in a crosswalk along Triunfo Canyon Road in Westlake Village northwest of Los Angeles, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting. She was allegedly street racing against former Major League Baseball pitcher Scott Erickson at the time; the posted speed limit was 45 mph.
Prosecutors claim Grossman hit both boys and traveled more than 100 feet with one of them on the hood of her car before she applied the brakes and the child fell off. She then allegedly ran over that boy and continued to drive for another quarter mile before she, told police, her “car engine cut off.”
Rebecca Grossman’s lawyers now allege the city’s failure to make the intersection safer is the primary reason for the boys’ deaths, according to Law and Crime.
Grossman’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee, claims that the primary cause of the crash wasn't his clients allegedly unsafe driving, but a dangerous pedestrian crosswalk.
“Our Freedom of Information Act requests have revealed that, despite multiple complaints from concerned citizens and many near misses, the city of Westlake Village refused on at least five occasions (2014/2017/2018/2019) to make the crossing safe,” Buzbee said in a statement to Law and Crime.
Buzbee said that the city engineer had determined the crossing was on a “blind curve,” but told Law and Crime the city took no action.
He also alleges that his investigators have determined that Grossman was traveling at just under 52 mph when she struck the boys, according to Law and Crime.
The Iskander family filed a lawsuit against the state of California, L.A. County and Westlake Village in August 2021, The Acorn reported, alleging that the intersection where the boys was killed was “dangerously defective” and acted as a “trap” for pedestrians.
“There was inadequate and unsafe sight lines and sight distances for drivers traveling through the intersection (which) lacks traffic control or warning devices necessary to prevent the intersection from being a concealed trap for pedestrians,” the suit against the city stated, according to the Acorn. “The rate of vehicle traffic, as well as pedestrian traffic, combined with the high speed limit were of such a nature that the crosswalk should have not existed without traffic device enhancements to provide warning of pedestrians using the intersection.”
After the deaths of the boys, the city allocated $250,000 to install flashing lights at the crossing, according to Buzbee and Law and Crime.
“It is ironic that the Iskander family not only sued the City of Westlake, but also sued the state of California for their sons’ deaths — the same entity that now is attempting to prosecute Mrs. Grossman,” Buzbee’s statement to Law and Crime said. “It is unfathomable to me how the state thinks it can prosecute someone while it is at the same time being sued for ‘recklessness,’ and negligence for the very same incident.”
Oxygen.com has reached out to Buzbee for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Jacob Iskander would have turned 11 on this coming Friday, his mother Nancy Iskander told the Ventura County Star after Tuesday’s hearing. She told the news outlet she plans to mark the occasion by going out to dinner with her husband and their two surviving children.
“I pray for every mom who’s lost a son,” she said, according to the Star. Supporters of the Iskander family were also at the hearing, wearing buttons that read “Justice for Mark and Jacob.”
The next pretrial hearing for Grossman is scheduled for March 6 and, if there are no further delays, the trial could start as early as April, according to the Ventura County Star. If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of 34 years to life in prison.
“There is a lot of hate and anger out there,” Grossman told Los Angeles Magazine in November. “And that hate stems from believing everything that’s been put out there about who I am: that I have no remorse, that I’m this monster, that this hasn’t affected my life, that I just go about my every day as if this never happened. That’s just not true.”
Grossman is the wife of Dr. Peter Grossman, a plastic surgeon, and the daughter-in-law of Dr. A. Richard Grossman, who founded the Grossman Burn Centers in Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Kansas City, Missouri. She is the co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation and the former publisher of Westlake Magazine, according to the Ventura County Star.
Nancy Iskander said anyone who wants to support Mark and Jacob’s legacy can do so through the charity founded in their memory with the Ventura County Community Foundation, the Ventura County Star reported. More information is available at markandjacobfoundation.org.
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