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Monday, June 10, 2024 | Back issues
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Rebecca Grossman gets 15 years to life in prison for killing two young boys with her car in Los Angeles

Grossman, now 60 years old, was convicted earlier this year of second-degree murder for hitting and killing two young boys with her car four years ago.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Rebecca Grossman, the wealthy woman who hit and killed two young boys with her car in 2020, was handed a sentence Monday of 15 years to life in prison. She must pay more than $47,000 in restitution.

The wife of renowned plastic surgeon Peter Grossman was found guilty earlier this year of second-degree murder in the death of 11-year-old Mark Iskander and his 8-year-old brother Jacob. The two were crossing the street in the west San Fernando Valley with their mother Nancy and 5-year-old brother Zachary when Grossman, driving her white Mercedes SUV at 81 miles per hour, struck the two brothers, killing them.

Though her airbag deployed instantly, Grossman did not stop her vehicle until she was about a quarter of a mile down the road, when the car's safety features automatically disabled it.

Grossman, who was separated from her husband at the time, had been having margaritas with her then-boyfriend, Scott Erickson, a former professional baseball player. During the trial, prosecutors argued that Grossman was under the influence of alcohol and valium, and was racing with Erickson, the two SUV's recklessly weaving in and out of lanes.

In order to justify the charge of murder, they pointed to an incident from 2013, when Grossman had been ticketed for driving 93 mph down the 101 Freeway, and had been warned that driving at such speeds put other people's lives in danger.

Her defense lawyer meanwhile argued that Erickson hit the two boys first, and that Grossman's car hit them afterward. The jury was left unconvinced by the theory, which lacked any physical evidence to back it up, and deliberated for less than two days before finding Grossman guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and one count of hit-and-run.

Prosectors had asked the judge to hand down the most punitive sentence allowed by law: two consecutive sentences of 15 years to life. The 60-year-old Grossman, they wrote in their sentencing memo, "has lived a life of privilege and clearly felt that her wealth and notoriety would buy her freedom." Her actions over the last four years, they added, "show a complete lack of remorse and narcissistic superiority that leads to only one conclusion, that she is undeserving of any leniency."

They pointed to the fact that Grossman's daughter testified that she had seen Erickson hiding in the bushes shortly after the crash — though she told few people of the incident until the trial.

"In a sheer act of cowardliness, shallowness, and showing a clear lack of remorse, the defendant convinced her daughter, Alexis Grossman, to lie while testifying," prosecutors argued.

In the defense team's sentencing memo, Grossman's new lawyer, James Spertus, asked the judge for probation with a suspended sentence — or, barring that, a much shorter prison term, using the vehicular manslaughter counts, which carry a maximum of 12 years, as a guide.

Spertus pointed out Grossman's rough upbringing — she had been physically abused by her father, who then abandoned the family, and later was molested by her mother's boyfriend when she was just 11 years old. He also sought to highlight his client's good works, calling her a "humanitarian" who had co-founded the Grossman Burn Foundation and become the legal guardian of a young woman from Afghanistan.

Though Grossman has stopped just short of taking responsibility for the tragedy, Spertus' letter says she “bears overwhelming sadness, despair and regret for her role in the tragedy.” And in a letter written to Nancy Iskander and her husband Karim, she wrote, "I give you my word that if I had been given the opportunity, I would have driven my car into a tree."

Last week, Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino denied a motion filed by the defense team for a new trial, saying the “totality of evidence” was enough to show that Grossman was responsible for the fatal collision, and that she had acted with "implied malice," meaning that she knew her actions posed a danger to others.

Grossman is likely to appeal that decision.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón expressed his disappointment with the the state prison sentence, which includes the possibility of parole, in a statement Monday.

“The loss of these two innocent lives has devastated their family and our community," Gascón said. "Ms. Grossman’s blatant disregard for human life is a stark reminder of the grave consequences of irresponsible behavior behind the wheel. Our office pursued this case with the intent to seek justice for the victims and their loved ones, advocating for a sentence that would reflect the severity of the crime.”

Last year, 337 people were killed in Los Angeles traffic collisions — more people than were murdered, and an 8% increase from 2022.

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Categories / Criminal, Law, Trials

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