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LA socialite convicted of murder for killing two young brothers in hit and run incident

A Los Angeles socialite accused of fatally ploughing into two young boys in a crosswalk while “racing” her sports star lover has been convicted of murder.

Rebecca Grossman, 60, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Mark Iskander, 11, and his brother Jacob Iskander, eight, on Friday – following a six-week trial.

The nine-man, three-woman jury reached its verdict on the second day of deliberations, after considering the evidence for a total of around nine hours. Grossman faces up to 34 years to life in prison at a sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for 10 April.

During the trial, the court heard how the socialite had been having drinks with her lover, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson, before driving at high speed through an intersection in the residential neighbourhood of Westlake Village, north west of LA, in September 2020.

The two youngsters were killed when she struck them with her Mercedes-Benz SUV as they walked in the marked crosswalk with their mother Nancy Iskander and five-year-old brother Zachary. Mark died at the scene of the incident, while his younger brother Jacob died later at a local hospital.

Grossman was also found guilty on two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death.

Eleven-year-old Mark Iskander died at the scene of the crash and his 8-year-old Jacob Iskander died hours later at the hospital (ABC 7/screengrab)
Eleven-year-old Mark Iskander died at the scene of the crash and his 8-year-old Jacob Iskander died hours later at the hospital (ABC 7/screengrab)

Prosecutors said that the socialite had been drinking cocktails at a nearby establishment with Mr Erickson before engaging in a street race through the residential area where she slammed into the two boys at a speed upwards of 70mph. The speed limit in the area was 45mph.

She had been driving behind Mr Erickson when the crash happened on Triunfo Canyon Road, according to testimony from Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators during a preliminary hearing in 2022.

The boys’ mother, Nancy Iskander, provided a harrowing account of what she witnessed during that fatal crash in the fall of 2020, during which she said the pair of SUVs “were zigzagging with each other as if they were playing or racing”.

“They didn’t stop before the intersection. They didn’t stop at the intersection. They didn’t stop when an 11-year-old was on the hood of the car … Nobody stopped,” she recounted in a tearful account at the time.

A friend of the family, Mirette Fouad, said Ms Iskander was able to get her two youngest children — including a daughter in a stroller — out of harm’s way, but she couldn’t reach the older boys in time.

Mark’s body was found 254 feet away from the crosswalk while Jacob was found about 50 feet away from the crosswalk, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Jurors heard that Grossman was ‘racing’ former LA Dodgers player Scott Erickson through a residential area when she hit the boys (AP2005)
Jurors heard that Grossman was ‘racing’ former LA Dodgers player Scott Erickson through a residential area when she hit the boys (AP2005)

During the trial Grossman’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, attempted to shift the blame for the boys’ tragic deaths to the ex-MLB player. Mr Buzbee claimed the Los Angeles Sheriff’s investigators never checked Mr Erickson’s black Mercedes SUV for damage, even though witnesses had claimed they saw him drive through the marked crosswalk a few seconds before Grossman.

The defence made a final attempt to blame Mr Erickson during closing arguments on Thursday, alleging that it was his car that struck the boys.

Mr Erickson, 55, was charged with misdemeanour reckless driving. In February 2022, a judge ordered him to make a public service announcement geared toward high school students about the importance of safe driving. Mr Erickson denied any wrongdoing.

At emotional pre-trial hearings in 2022, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shellie Samuels determined the defence’s previous argument that Grossman was rushing home was not accurate.

“The defendant was not rushing to get home; she was playing a high-speed game of chicken with Mr Erickson,” Judge Samuels said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “I believe the defendant went well beyond gross negligence.”

Grossman, co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation, is married to prominent surgeon Dr Peter Grossman.

At trial Dr 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 Mr Erickson in 2020, he testified.

Under prosecution questioning, he said that out of the hundreds of times he rode with his ex-wife, he had no recollection of her ever speeding.