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A preliminary hearing continues for the California socialite accused of hitting and killing two young brothers with her car in 2020 and then driving off.
Rebecca Grossman, 58, is facing charges in connection with the hit-and-run deaths of two boys on Sept. 29, 2020. Authorities said the socialite — once known for her philanthropic work — had reached speeds of up to 81 mph in her Mercedes Benz before hitting brothers Jacob and Mark Iskander, ages 8 and 11, as they walked with their parents and siblings in a marked crosswalk in the residential area of Westlake Village, according to the Los Angeles Times. The crosswalk leads from a residential development to the edge of the Westlake Lake, where there are walking and biking trails.
The preliminary hearing will determine whether or not there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Grossman was allegedly street racing in her white Mercedes-Benz against former MLB baseball pitcher Scott Erickson — who was later charged with reckless driving in the case — when the accident occurred. 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 he fell off. She then allegedly ran over that boy and continued to drive for another quarter mile before her “car engine cut off” shortly after 7:00 p.m.
Before they were killed, the Iskander boys had been walking with their mother, father and two siblings. Their mother was able to save another one of her children, who was riding on his scooter, as well as the youngest, who was in a baby stroller, but couldn't grab Jacob or Mark in time.
New details are coming to light as, one by one, witnesses and experts take the stand. The first to testify was the boys’ mother, Nancy Iskander, who faced Grossman in the Van Nuys courtroom on Monday.
“They didn’t stop before the intersection. They didn’t stop at the intersection,” said Mrs. Iskander. “They didn’t stop when an 11-year-old was on the hood of the car. Nobody stopped.”
The grieving mother described having nightmares where she could still see Jacob lying near the curb and Mark with a broken arm and blood coming from his mouth.
“I see him every night,” she said of Mark.
Mark died on the scene, while Jacob succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.
On the second day of the preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shellie Samuels said the boys’ deaths were “one of the most difficult cases” she’d ever faced.
Witnesses also testified that Grossman was tailing Erickson’s SUV at high speeds before the accident; the two were allegedly headed to the same house party. According to the L.A. Times, Erickson was able to swerve and narrowly avoid hitting the pedestrians before Grossman allegedly barreled through the crosswalk; Grossman's defense said that she was tailing Erickson's vehicle too closely to see why he was swerving or make a similar maneuver.
A collision investigator with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said data extracted from Grossman’s vehicle showed the driver reached 81 mph just 1.5 seconds before the crash, though she subsequently took her foot off the accelerator, reducing her speed to 73 mph when the car struck the boys.
The expert also claimed the defendant’s Mercedes-Benz was made to cut fuel to the engine pending a crash, which would account for why Grossman’s car stalled shortly after the collision.
On Wednesday, Grossman’s legal team played video footage from officers who responded to the scene, as reported by Fox Los Angeles.
“I was driving, and all of a sudden, my airbag went off,” Grossman told officers with the California Highway Patrol. “Someone needs to tell me about those children. I’m told children were involved.”
Video footage showed officials administering a Breathalyzer test, where Grossman blew a .075 and then a .076, which the defense has pointed to as being under the state’s legal limit of .08.
According to the Times, the Breathalyzer test was performed 90 minutes after the crash.
Grossman reportedly kept interrupting officers on the scene and explained her husband was a surgeon who could come from their nearby home and assist the victims. According to the Grossman Burn Foundation — a mission created by the Grossmans to help burn victims around the world — Peter Grossman is a plastic surgeon.
She also told authorities she'd had a single margarita about two hours before the collision, while at a local restaurant.
The children’s father, Karim Iskander, spoke in court on Friday, according to Fox Los Angeles.
“The killing of my sons were indirect consequences of those extremely reckless actions that basically used the car as a weapon,” he said. “I don’t see the difference between that and shooting a gun randomly.”
Grossman is facing charges of two counts each of felony murder and vehicular manslaughter, as well as one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death, as previously reported. If convicted, she faces up to 34 years in prison.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges and continues to be out on $2 million bail.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume on May 4.
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