D.A. removes Rebecca Grossman’s prosecutors, outraging parents of murdered boys

Nancy Iskander and her husband, Karim, leave court.
Nancy Iskander and her husband, Karim, leave the Van Nuys courthouse in April 2022 during a preliminary hearing in the murder trial of Rebecca Grossman. Grossman was later convicted in the deaths of the couple’s sons Mark and Jacob, ages 11 and 8.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has taken the highly unusual step of removing the prosecutors who convicted Rebecca Grossman of double murder, outraging the parents of the two young boys she killed in a Westlake Village crosswalk.

Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s office replaced prosecutors Jamie Castro, Ryan Gould and their supervisor, Garrett Dameron, after claiming a conflict of interest in the Grossman case. The trio reported during trial to Assistant Dist. Atty. Diana Teran, who was recently charged with 11 felonies in connection with the illegal use of confidential sheriff’s records. Teran is represented by James Spertus, Grossman’s new attorney.

The district attorney’s top bosses told Dameron the prosecutors were being removed so anyone who worked with Teran would be walled off from the case going forward. But according to an email by Dameron to his superiors, the move was taken only after his team suggested that Spertus, who is seeking a new trial for Grossman, could end up questioning Teran’s decisions in the case.


Dist. Atty. Chief Deputy Joseph Iniguez said in an interview Monday that the prosecution will now be led by Habib Balian, assistant head deputy of the Major Crimes Division. After first pulling the previous prosecutors from the case entirely, Iniguez said Gould and Castro will assist.

Iniguez said he decided a change of command was needed to distance the team from Teran, whose charging led to unusual circumstances.

“There was a perceived internal conflict with these supervisors having reported to an attorney [Teran] represented by the same attorney as Ms. Grossman,” Iniguez said.

But Dameron said his superiors are now backpedaling. “That’s not what I was told on Friday,” he said in a brief interview with The Times on Monday.

The prosecution change comes at a potentially vital moment as sentencing for Grossman has been delayed until at least June. She has been awaiting sentencing since her Feb. 23 conviction of second-degree murder in the deaths of brothers Mark and Jacob Iskander, 11 and 8, who were struck and killed in a crosswalk as Grossman sped along a residential Westlake Village street in September 2020.

The boys’ mother, Nancy Iskander — who testified at trial she saw Grossman’s white SUV speed through the intersection where her boys were walking — said Gould told her Friday that he, Castro and Dameron were being removed. In a Mother’s Day interview with The Times, she expressed outrage over the decision and questioned why she was being made a victim again.


“This is truly shocking and disappointing,” Iskander said.

For Nancy Iskander, the conviction of Rebecca Grossman in the killing of her two young sons was a moment of satisfaction and grief.

Feb. 24, 2024

Dameron echoed that sentiment in an email to Iniguez.

“In my nearly 24 years in the office, this decision is shocking and unprecedented. I also believe it is contrary to professional ethics and to thwart our clear duty of candor to the court,” Dameron wrote. “At the very least, this extraordinary decision jeopardizes the successful completion of the case and the impartial administration of justice.”

During the six-week murder trial against Grossman, Teran was in constant supervisory contact with the prosecution. Last month, after Teran was charged, Gould and Castro notified the judge of the conflict because Spertus represents both Grossman and Teran.

Iskander said the decision “took me a few steps back in my healing process.” She said that instead of seeking to oust the conflicted defense attorney, the D.A.’s office is now taking away the people who delivered justice to her family.

“I am being punished for something I had nothing to do with. They choose to punish the victim,” she said. “They have a motion for a new trial. We have things that only Ryan — who knows the case so well and knows the defendant so well — can deal with.

“We were looking forward to closing the case. Sentencing was soon,” she continued. “For me, all of a sudden to have to meet another prosecutor and work with them — they don’t know my family or the boys.”

Mark Iskander, 11, and his brother Jacob Iskander, 8
Mark Iskander, 11, and his brother Jacob Iskander, 8, were killed by Rebecca Grossman.
(Courtesy of the Iskander family )

Iskander said she has asked the D.A.’s office to reverse its decision.

As the Grossman prosecution’s top boss, Teran was involved in daily strategy of the trial, according to internal district attorney’s communications reviewed by The Times.

Since the trial ended, Teran has been charged in a felony case. On April 24, California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta charged her with 11 felonies in connection with the downloading of records in 2018 while working at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Teran “impermissibly used” those records after joining Gascón’s office, Bonta alleged. Spertus has denied any wrongdoing by Teran.

Spertus, who took over Grossman’s case after her conviction, said there is “no conceivable/arguable/theoretical conflict of interest.”

In a motion filed Monday, prosecutors say the convicted murderer used jailhouse phones to direct her family to release evidence that had been sealed and to track down witnesses to get them to say their testimony was directed.

March 19, 2024

Dameron, however, said there is. He wrote in his email to Iniguez that the removal of the prosecutors came after a proposed motion to remove Spertus from the case, arguing that Grossman cannot waive any conflict.

He said prosecutors were given a “very vague explanation” that they “had to be walled off because Diana Teran was our supervisor during a period of time of the prosecution,” but said the conflict is actually with Spertus “representing both of these defendants.”

According to Dameron’s email, prosecutors “became aware of a witness who had critical information regarding Grossman’s continued efforts to obstruct justice from inside the county jail” shortly after Spertus became her attorney on March 22.


Based on recorded jailhouse telephone calls, prosecutors also were aware Grossman was trying to have her husband and daughter talk to trial witnesses to change their testimony. The jailhouse witness had information important to “preserving the integrity of our verdict and the safety of our witnesses,” Dameron wrote.

“As instructed, I sent a request to interview the witness to Teran,” Dameron wrote. “To our shock, Teran denied our request to conduct this interview. I repeatedly asked for an explanation and was not given one.”

On Monday, Iniguez told The Times, “The decision to re-assign the matter was necessary to address any perceived internal conflict over past issues of supervision.”

Rebecca, Peter and Alexis Grossman leave court.
Rebecca Grossman, second from left, with her husband, Dr. Peter Grossman, and daughter, Alexis.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Teran has long been represented by Spertus’ law firm. According to a 2019 deposition, she was represented by Spertus’ colleague, Samuel Josephs, during a civil case involving allegations over confidential sheriff’s records that ultimately led to last month’s criminal charges.

Spertus has insisted Teran is innocent and said the documents in question were obtained either through public court files or involved findings of dishonesty against sheriff’s deputies, which would be public record under Senate Bill 1421, California’s landmark police transparency law.


He said he plans to file a motion Monday to seek a new trial for Grossman on the basis of “prosecutorial misconduct,” alleging the prosecutors misstated facts.

“If the prosecutors were removed, it was because they didn’t follow the court’s orders, in my mind,” Spertus told The Times.

The prosecution has rested and the defense will begin presenting its case this week in the murder trial of Rebecca Grossman, charged in the deaths of two young boys in a traffic collision in Westlake Village.

Feb. 13, 2024

In his email, Dameron argued that if the Grossman prosecutors need to be removed because they worked with Teran, then all prosecutors who have worked with public corruption and law enforcement prosecution would also need to be replaced since Teran supervises those cases as well.

“This decision gives off the appearance that there is a greater concern for protecting other collateral players (such as the administration and Diana Teran) than seeing that justice is done and that the interests of the family of Jacob and Mark Iskander (the two little boys murdered by Grossman) are safeguarded,” Dameron wrote in the email, which concluded with him asking Iniguez to reconsider the “terrible decision.”

Iniguez countered that the move was made with the “utmost consideration” for the Iskander family and to “protect the integrity of the legal process and the jury verdict.”

The move is the latest controversy in the Grossman case. In March, Gould and Castro sought to have her jailhouse privileges revoked after a series of recorded telephone calls from the Twin Towers jail to her family instructed them to release evidence that had been sealed during her double murder trial and to track down witnesses to get them to say their testimony was directed.


But Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino refused to move Grossman to a part of the jail system where her mail is checked and where she would have no access to phones or visitors, except for her attorneys, saying the punishment wasn’t necessary.

In denying the motions, Brandolino warned Grossman’s new defense lawyers, led by Spertus, that going forward, any release of evidence under seal would result in financial sanctions for them and he would report them to the State Bar.

Grossman’s lawyers also successfully petitioned the judge to delay her sentencing, which had been scheduled for April, until at least June so Spertus could review the voluminous court record as he prepares for a motion for a new trial. Grossman is facing 34 years to life in prison.