‘Nobody stopped’: Who struck two brothers in a crosswalk? Murder trial begins for L.A. socialite

Rebecca Grossman arrives in court in April 2022.
Rebecca Grossman arrives at Van Nuys Courthouse for a hearing in April 2022. Jury selection began Tuesday in Grossman’s murder trial, stemming from a 2020 collision in Westlake Village that left two young brothers dead.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Nancy Iskander was in the crosswalk of a quiet Westlake Village street with three of her children when she heard engines roaring. Two sport utility vehicles were barreling toward them.

Iskander put up her right hand in a desperate effort to stop the speeding vehicles and dived for safety, grabbing her 5-year-old son. Her next memory is of her two older boys — Jacob, 8, and Mark, 11 — crumpled on Triunfo Canyon Road.

For the record:

8:10 a.m. Jan. 25, 2024An earlier version of this article failed to include attribution to original reporting done by the Acorn, including comments made by prosecutors during a pretrial hearing in December.

Los Angeles County prosecutors say Rebecca Grossman was behind the wheel of a white Mercedes that fatally struck the boys in the marked crosswalk. Witnesses say she was driving as fast as 81 mph and traveled another half-mile after slamming into the children.


More than three years after the brothers’ deaths, the murder trial of the Hidden Hills socialite began Tuesday as jury selection got underway. More than 150 potential jurors were sworn in in a Van Nuys courtroom, with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino having them fill out detailed questionnaires to begin the process.

Rebecca Grossman was ‘frantic’ after the crash, and video shows her repeatedly asking a deputy about the children’s fate.

April 27, 2022

Grossman, 60, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death in connection with the fatal Sept. 29, 2020 collision. The murder counts are somewhat unprecedented as Grossman was not charged with driving under the influence, which is typically used to prove gross negligence in vehicular fatalities.

She has pleaded not guilty, and her legal team, led by Tony Buzbee, says the evidence will show she wasn’t speeding and another vehicle struck the boys.

A handmade yellow sign with a photo of two boys reads "Justice for Mark & Jacob."
A sign outside the Van Nuys Courthouse in 2022 shows an image of Mark Iskander, 11, and his brother Jacob, 8.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Grossman was driving behind Scott Erickson, a former Dodgers player, who earlier in the day had been drinking cocktails with Grossman at a nearby restaurant, sheriff’s investigators testified during a preliminary hearing in 2022.

Grossman’s on-site breathalyzer test showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.076%, slightly below California’s legal limit of 0.08%. A blood sample taken three hours after the crash registered at the 0.08% mark.


Prosecutors Ryan Gould and Jamie Castro plan to introduce evidence that Valium was also found in Grossman’s system, and that together with the alcohol, the prescription drug impaired her driving.

“Justice needs to be done,” the children’s father, Karim Iskander, said.

April 30, 2022

Jurors will be allowed to hear that Grossman — who is married to Dr. Peter Grossman, a renowned plastic surgeon who heads the West Hills-based Grossman Burn Center — was in a romantic relationship with Erickson at the time of the crash, according to a recent ruling by Brandolino.

According to a story first reported in the Acorn newspaper, prosecutors say Grossman and Erickson, 55, were driving separately from Julio’s restaurant to a nearby lakeside home when the two “raced” through the Westlake crosswalk.

Until last month, prosecutors had never revealed the nature of their relationship. But that changed, Castro said, because “the defense intends to argue that the black car that is at issue in this particular scenario is not Erickson’s,” the Acorn reported.

Grossman’s lawyers maintain that the lead vehicle was driven by someone else who could have struck the boys first.

“The people intend to put forth evidence that it was, in fact, Erickson,” Castro said during a pretrial hearing in December, according to the Acorn. “We’re not looking to get into any salacious information.”


An attorney for Rebecca Grossman offered a preview of her defense, disputing prosecutors’ allegations of her speed during the fatal 2020 crash and calling the pedestrian crossing a known danger.

Jan. 10, 2023

Erickson was charged with a misdemeanor. His case was resolved in February 2022, with a judge ordering him to make a public service announcement geared toward high school students about the importance of safe driving, according to reporting by the Acorn.

Jurors are expected to begin hearing testimony in a week or two, and the proceedings could last six weeks or longer.

Graphic testimony from Iskander is expected at the trial. During a preliminary hearing in 2022, she testified that she and Jacob were on inline skates, 5-year-old Zachary was on his scooter and Mark was on his skateboard as the family crossed the residential boulevard. Her husband and daughter were jogging nearby.

Iskander said she could not tell whether it was Grossman’s white SUV that struck her children, because she was diving out of the way with Zachary, or whether it was the black vehicle driven by Erickson.

“The speed was insane,” she said of the two SUVs. “They 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,” Iskander testified.


Rebecca Grossman’s legal team argued she did not have implied malice when her vehicle killed youngsters Mark and Jacob Iskander in a crosswalk.

Sept. 7, 2022

She said Jacob was lying near the curb, and Mark was lying on the road with his “arm broken” and “blood coming out his mouth.” She testified that her 5-year-old watched paramedics perform CPR on his brother Jacob. Mark died at the scene, and Jacob died hours later at the hospital.

Jurors will probably hear from former L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Apodaca, who specializes in traffic crashes. During the preliminary hearing, he testified that he calculated Grossman was driving 71.7 mph when she struck the boys and that the car computer showed 73 mph. Under cross-examination, he said the older child, Mark, was struck by the vehicle and thrown 254 feet, the farthest he has known a human to be tossed in a crash.

Another deputy, Rafael Mejia, testified he had found Grossman a third of a mile away from the crash, stopped at the curb and saying she didn’t know why her airbag had been triggered.

But in pretrial motions, Grossman’s legal team has sought to undermine Mejia’s credibility, noting the law enforcement officer is accused of inappropriately distributing photos from Kobe Bryant’s fatal helicopter crash.

A car with a smashed-in grille on a street at night
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department investigated the crash involving the vehicle shown here.
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Buzbee, a larger-than-life Texas attorney who ran for Houston mayor, is likely to try to poke holes in the science of the crash data, upon which much of the prosecution is built.


In addition to bringing in experts to dispute the speed of Grossman’s vehicle, Buzbee said he has evidence showing that the city of Westlake Village knew the crosswalk on Triunfo Canyon Road was dangerous and described by the city engineer as a “blind curve” for motorists.

Rebecca Grossman, co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation, faces murder charges after a September car crash that killed two boys.

Dec. 30, 2020

To get a second-degree murder conviction, Gould and Castro must prove that Grossman acted with implied malice and knew the act of driving at a high speed in a residential area was dangerous to human life.

John Hobson, one of Grossman’s attorneys, said that “the evidence supports we have a tragic traffic accident,” but there was no implied malice, and Grossman was not “driving with proximity attempt to kill.”

Prosecutors argue that that knowledge comes from her prior incidents. Jurors will probably hear from a California Highway Patrol officer who pulled over Grossman in 2013 after she was clocked going 92 mph on the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills and warned her she could kill someone.

Prosecutors have not offered a plea deal to the socialite, who has been out on $2-million bond. If convicted of all charges, she could face up to 34 years in prison.