No new trial for Rebecca Grossman. Judge cites booze, speed, warning in upholding murder conviction

Rebecca Grossman walks into court in February with her daughter, Alexis.
Rebecca Grossman, left, walks into court in February with her daughter, Alexis.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Monday rejected Rebecca Grossman’s bid to overturn her murder convictions in the killing of two young brothers in a Westlake Village crosswalk, saying the facts and circumstances presented at trial justified the verdict.

Judge Joseph Brandolino upheld the decision in the September 2020 murders of Mark and Jacob Iskander, saying the evidence was “sufficient to support implied malice beyond a reasonable doubt.”

He found that Grossman knew her actions were a danger to human life and she acted with conscious disregard, factors required under the law for vehicular murder convictions.


After a six-week trial filled with drama and emotion, a jury of nine men and three women found Grossman guilty in February of two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of hit and run in the deaths of the Iskander brothers, ages 11 and 8.

Brandolino said the “totality of evidence” of Grossman’s actions before and after the fatal collision — including her drinking, speeding and leaving the scene — supported the verdict.

The judge noted that she drank at a Westlake Village restaurant and at a friend’s home, and based on her blood alcohol level, had likely drunk more than two drinks and then drove under “slight impairment.”

New attorneys for Rebecca Grossman say prosecutors failed to prove she acted with implied malice and that erroneous evidence was admitted in her trial.

May 15, 2024

She sped at 73 mph to 81 mph in a residential neighborhood on Triunfo Canyon Road that had a posted 45-mph limit, the judge said. And she was closely following the vehicle of Scott Erickson, her then-boyfriend, before the crash as the two raced home.

Brandolino also said that Grossman left the scene. Her SUV stopped three-tenths of a mile from the marked crosswalk where the boys were struck after the vehicle was powered down by its safety system.

The judge also noted how Grossman had “received a warning that speed could kill” when she was given a speeding ticket from a California Highway Patrol officer in 2013.


A motion by the prosecution sought to either remove the convicted murderer’s new lead attorney or have her formally waive a conflict of interest. She agreed to the latter.

May 17, 2024

James Spertus, Grossman’s new lead attorney, who was hired after her conviction, argued there was no evidence presented at trial to support implied malice, which is needed for the murder charges.

“She doesn’t have a malignant heart,” Spertus told the judge. “Ms. Grossman didn’t want to go fast and not care. ... It is a tragedy, not a murder.

“This has been an incredibly tragic case,” Spertus continued.

But when the lawyer told the court that “Mrs. Grossman suffers every day,” his words prompted audible disgust from onlookers, many of whom have loyally supported the Iskanders.

Spertus also argued that testimony related to Grossman’s 2013 speeding ticket should not have been admitted, saying it was a weak attempt by the prosecution to show implied malice. He said the warning that Officer Robert Leffler purportedly gave Grossman when he ticketed her doing 93 mph on the 101 Freeway was insufficient.

Spertus argued that while prosecutors had promised the officer would specifically say he had given a warning to Grossman that “speed kills,” he actually testified that, in general, he gave that warning to all drivers. The prosecution’s argument — that the warning indicated that if she continued to speed in the future, it would be “in conscious disregard for human life” — was misleading, he said.

“You were misled in allowing certain evidence in,” Spertus told Brandolino of the officer’s testimony.


Brandolino, however, countered that the testimony was not exacted as proffered, but it was not that far from what he believed was going to be said.

The L.A. County D.A.’s office replaced the prosecutors after they began preparing a motion to remove Grossman’s new attorney because of a conflict of interest.

May 15, 2024

Spertus also tried unsuccessfully to argue that Grossman was not read her rights during nearly an hour of waiting in a police car after the crash and as such, her statements during that period were inadmissible.

But Brandolino said the co-founder of the Grossman Burn Center was never in custody during that time and a deputy placed her in a sheriff’s cruiser for her safety.

The judge also rejected the defense’s request for a new trial based on a plethora of other arguments involving expert testimony and crime lab testing methods.

Grossman, who appeared in court wearing a brown jail shirt and pants, is slated to be sentenced June 10. She faces 34 years to life in prison.