Rebecca Grossman is a narcissist who deserves life in prison for boys' murders, prosecutors say


Rebecca Grossman should receive consecutive life sentences in the murders of two brothers run down in a Westlake Village crosswalk because she shows no remorse and refuses to accept responsibility for the fatal crash, prosecutors say.

But Grossman’s defense attorneys argue the philanthropic mother of two with no prior criminal record should be spared prison time and instead receive probation.

Grossman was convicted in February of two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of hit and run in the 2020 deaths of Mark and Jacob Iskander, ages 11 and 8.

Prior to the crash, she had drunk at least two margaritas and had Valium in her system as she raced her then-boyfriend, Scott Erickson, through the residential neighborhood, speeding up to 81 mph in a 45-mph zone, according to evidence presented at trial.

When she slammed into the Iskander brothers, who were in a marked crosswalk, the force was equal to her Mercedes SUV being dropped from a 12-story building onto the boys, according to a motion filed by the prosecution seeking the maximum penalty in Grossman’s sentencing.

“The defendant’s actions from September 29, 2020, through today show a complete lack of remorse and narcissistic superiority that leads to only one conclusion, that she is not deserving of any leniency,” prosecutors Habib Balian, Ryan Gould and Jamie Castro wrote. “The defendant has continually shown through her actions that she is deserving of maximum punishment.”

Grossman, they said, “continually refused to take responsibility for her criminal behavior and has refused to take responsibility for the murders of Mark and Jacob Iskander. She has lived a life of privilege and clearly felt that her wealth and notoriety would buy her freedom.”

Prosecutors want Grossman, who is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, to receive two consecutive 15-years-to-life sentences plus four years for fleeing the scene. The 60-year-old would likely spend the rest of her life in prison with that sentence.

Instead of taking a “modicum of responsibility,” the wife of Grossman Burn Centers found Dr. Peter Grossman has blamed others, including the victims — wrongly claiming the boys were out of the crosswalk — their mother for walking with them at dusk and Erickson, whom she accused at trial of striking the boys first with his SUV despite “not a shred of evidence to prove this to be true,” prosecutors say.

Prosecutors say that to make matters “even more egregious,” Grossman fled the scene despite admitting in a letter to the boys’ parents, Nancy and Karim Iskander, that she remembers seeing a boy fall from the sky and hit her car. In the letter, Grossman wrote she even reached out to NASA and SpaceX because she believed something had come down on her car.

Grossman’s history of speeding and a warning of its deadly consequences by a CHP officer after being ticketed in 2013 going 93 mph on the 101 Freeway should also be taken into account at her sentencing, the prosecution said.

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

Balian and his colleagues also allege that Grossman got her family to lie out of desperation during the trial.

Calling it “a sheer act of cowardness,” prosecutors say Grossman got her daughter, Alexis, to perjure herself on the witness stand. The young woman testified that she had seen Erickson hiding in the bushes watching deputies detain her mother and that he later came to their house and threatened her and her family if she told anyone she had seen him.

Furthermore, the prosecution said that even after being scolded by the judge for orchestrating witness tampering from jail, Grossman “conspired with a friend to contact the Iskanders by scheming to give them a necklace.” The jewelry had the boys’ birthstones, and attorneys say Grossman was trying to have it anonymously delivered last month.

Read more: Judge finds potential conflict with lawyer representing Rebecca Grossman and prosecutor, but resolves issue with waiver

But Grossman’s new legal team, led by James Spertus, has asked the judge to consider probation with a suspended sentence or a shorter prison term.

The defense paints a far different picture of Grossman, portraying her as a “humanitarian” who worked to save female burn victims and victims of domestic violence. She grew up with a father who was rarely around, and when he was he was, he was abusive during her impoverished childhood in Texas.

Spertos’ motion never acknowledged any crime — a move likely with an eye toward an appeal following a failed bid earlier this week to get a new trial.

While acknowledging the Iskanders’ loss is “incalculable,” Spertus wrote in a sentencing memorandum that the Grossmans have experienced a different loss: the loss of a mother to her two children, while Grossman herself has lost her purpose in life and “bears overwhelming sadness, despair and regret for her role in the tragedy.”

Spertus attached several letters from Grossman’s family and friends, including one from Grossman’s son, Nick.

“Nothing compares to what the Iskanders are going through, but ever since the accident, it’s just felt like the world hates my mom and everyone is against our family. It’s like they just want the worst version of the story and have never looked into who she really is and all the things she’s done her entire life, every single day.

“They’ve made her into a monster,” he said.

Spertus argued that Grossman is a first-time offender who lived an exemplary life and donated $25,000 anonymously to the funeral expenses of the children.

“This is not someone who has not demonstrated any lack of remorse,” Spertus wrote.

In seeking leniency in sentencing, the defense lawyer said that Grossman was abandoned by a physically abusive father and then molested by her mother’s boyfriend at age 11. Her mother had mental health struggles, and as a teen, Grossman had to call 911 several times after finding her mother lying on the floor unconscious and “nearly dead,” having taken pills.

It was those experiences that led Grossman to help get burn treatment for Zubaida, a young woman from Afghanistan disfigured in an accident with a kerosene lamp. The Grossmans eventually would become her legal guardian after they took her into their home, and it would inspire the creation of the Grossman Burn Foundation, Spertos said.

In a letter to the court, Zubaida called Grossman her “American mother,” saying she has loved and nurtured her “like no one else ever has.” Grossman’s work with another young woman from Afghanistan disfigured by an abusive husband resulted in her leading a global initiative to stop violence against women, Spertus said in the filing.

Grossman’s attorney asked the judge to consider probation in next week’s sentencing, even though he acknowledged it is not the standard for implied malice murder.

If the judge does send her to prison, Spertus asked that he give a specific sentence using the vehicular manslaughter counts and leaving the scene while omitting the sentence in the murder counts; that would be a maximum of 12 years and four months behind bars.

Barring that, Spertus asked if Grossman is given life sentences, they should run concurrently.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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