Boy’s body bore the imprint of Mercedes front grille, medical examiner says at Grossman trial
A diamond-shaped pattern on the back and right thigh of an 11-year-old boy killed in a Westlake crosswalk matched the design of the front grille of a Mercedes SUV driven by Rebecca Grossman, according to testimony at the Hidden Hills woman’s murder trial.
A medical examiner took the stand Tuesday and outlined harrowing details in the Sept. 29, 2020, deaths of Mark Iskander and his 8-year-old brother, Jacob, drawing the intense focus of jurors as images of the boys’ injuries appeared on a large courtroom monitor.
“The pattern of the injuries is essentially a match to the pattern of the grille,” said Dr. Matthew Miller, a pathologist with the San Bernardino medical examiner. At the time of the boys’ deaths, Miller was a deputy L.A. County medical examiner.
“It is a kind of shape force abrasion,” he said. “A tire isn’t going to leave a mark like this.”
Under cross-examination, Miller conceded that another Mercedes with a similar grille could have inflicted such injuries.
It is a black Mercedes SUV, driven by former Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson — Grossman’s then-lover — that defense attorneys maintain hit Mark, sending him high into the air and into the path of Grossman’s SUV as she drove behind Erickson into the crosswalk.
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. Prosecutors say that, after having cocktails with Erickson, Grossman sped through the crosswalk, crashing into the boys as they crossed Triunfo Canyon Road behind their mother and younger brother. Prosecutors have told jurors she drove as fast as 81 mph before hitting the boys.
During the proceedings, as the photos of the abrasions on the children’s bodies were shown on the courtroom monitor, Grossman averted her eyes from the screen. She gazed downward as Miller described the blunt force trauma suffered by the brothers. Shortly after jurors left for a break, she walked toward her husband, Peter Grossman, and they embraced as she quietly sobbed.
Nancy Iskander, the boys’ mother, was not in court as the witness spoke. She left beforehand, with the judge’s encouragement, due to the nature of the medical examiner’s testimony. Iskander’s tearful outbursts and cries of anguish have punctuated the murder trial.
Grossman’s lawyers had said they might seek a mistrial if Iskander had another emotional outburst in court. Attorney John Hobson said such displays in front of the jury “affect the defendant’s fundamental right to a fair trial.”
The prosecution and defense each sought to use Miller to bolster their case.
In answer to prosecutors’ question, Miller testified that both boys’ injuries were consistent with being hit by a single car. He disagreed with the defense scenario of Erickson’s black Mercedes sending Mark vertically into the air. He said the vehicle’s front end is too high, and that the boy more likely would be propelled forward.
Questioned by Grossman’s lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, however, Miller acknowledged the “possibility” that the boys were killed by two cars.
“You cannot definitively tell this jury one car killed Mark Iskander?” Buzbee asked.
“No,” Miller replied.
“You cannot definitively tell this jury one car killed Jacob Iskander?” Buzbee asked.
“No,” Miller said.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.