Rebecca Grossman sentenced to 15 years in prison for murder of boys killed in crosswalk

A judge on Monday sentenced Rebecca Grossman to 15 years to life in prison for the murders of two brothers she hit while speeding through a Westlake Village crosswalk four years ago, saying her actions were “reckless and undoubtedly negligent”.

After Nancy Iskander, the mother who heard Mark Iskander, 11, and Jacob Iskander, 8, angrily demanded that the sentence reflect the deaths of her two boys, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino, sentenced the philanthropist to two sentences. concurrent sentences, plus three additional years concurrent for fleeing the scene of the fatal accident.

“She’s a coward,” Iskander said of Grossman.

But Brandolino said Grossman was “not a monster like prosecutors have portrayed him to be.”

Appearing in court with her hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing a brown shirt over a white T-shirt and pants, Grossman, 60, agreed to pay $47,161.89 in restitution to the Iskander family. His lawyers say the Grossman Burn Foundation co-founder had already donated $25,000 toward funeral expenses.

The conviction ends a nearly four-year criminal saga that saw her refuse to accept responsibility for the boys’ deaths and attempt to manipulate the case from behind bars, even after her conviction.

Dr. Peter Grossman, right, leaves the Van Nuys courthouse Monday with his two children, Nicholas and Alexis, after Rebecca Grossman was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder and other charges stemming from an accident that killed two young boys in Westlake Village.

(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

“I’ve never seen anyone. “I never saw anyone,” Grossman said at his sentencing. “I would have been thrown against a brick wall… I don’t know why God didn’t take my life. »

She said she went into a state of denial after the collision and stopped.

Looking at Nancy Iskander, she said through tears, “My pain is only a fraction of your pain. »

After a six-week trial filled with dramatic testimony, Grossman was convicted in February of two counts of murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and one count of fatal hit-and-run in the killings of the two children in September 2020.

The boys’ mother verified during the trial that her older children were walking ahead of her and her youngest son in the marked crosswalk on Triunfo Canyon Road when she heard the roar of the engines. Two sport utility vehicles were rushing towards them.

Iskander dove to safety and grabbed his 5-year-old son. Her next memory, she says, is of Jacob and Mark collapsed on the road.

Grossman was driving behind Scott Erickson, a former Dodgers player, who earlier in the day had been drinking cocktails with her at a nearby restaurant. She was driving at speeds of up to 81 mph and traveled another half-mile after hitting the children, according to evidence presented at trial.

Nancy Iskander and her husband Karim speak with the media.

Nancy Iskander and her husband, Karim, speak with the media after Rebecca Grossman was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison Monday.

(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Prosecutors Habib Balian, Ryan Gould and Jamie Castro wrote to the judge last week that Grossman had shown no remorse: “The defendant’s actions from September 29, 2020 to the present show a complete lack of remorse and a narcissistic superiority that leads to only one conclusion, namely that She deserves no indulgence.

On Monday, more than a dozen friends and family members of the Iskanders stood before the judge to describe the void left by the boys’ deaths and to ask that Grossman be sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

Pastor Chamie Delkeskamp of Ascension Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks said the fatal crash impacted the entire community, noting that many children are now afraid to enter a crosswalk. Probation for Grossman “would be a slap in the face to justice,” Delekeskamp said.

Mark and Jacob Iskander

Mark Iskander, 11, left, and his brother Jacob were killed when Rebecca Grossman hit them in a marked crosswalk in Westlake Village in 2020.

(Family photo)

Former babysitter Natalie Nashed noted that “the senseless crime…cost two innocent souls.”

Sherif Iskander, the boys’ uncle, said Grossman — whom he described as self-centered and entitled — “tried to get away with murder.”

“To this day, she has never apologized to our family,” he said.

Joyce Ghobrial, the boys’ grandmother, told the court: “I live the rest of my life to die in mourning. » As her voice faded, Nancy Iskander stood up and touched her mother’s back for comfort.

When Bodie Wallace, who was Jacob’s best friend, spoke, Grossman leaned back in her seat sobbing. The 13-year-old said the song “10,000 Reasons” makes him sad now because he wonders about the “10,000 reasons why Mrs. Grossman didn’t say ‘sorry’ right away.”

Grossman’s lawyers, led by James Spertus, had argued that the mother of two, who had no criminal record, should not serve prison time. They asked the judge to consider probation with a suspended sentence or a shorter prison term.

His lawyers painted a very different picture of Grossman, that of a “humanitarian” who worked to save burned women and victims of domestic violence.

While saying the Iskanders’ loss is “incalculable,” Spertus wrote in a sentencing memorandum last week that the Grossmans experienced a different kind of loss: the loss of a mother to her two children, and Grossman herself even lost his life’s purpose and “carries” overwhelming sadness, despair and regret for his role in the tragedy. »

He attached several letters from Grossman’s family and friends, including one from Grossman’s son, Nick, who said: “Nothing compares to what the Iskanders are going through, but since the accident, I have feeling like the world hates my mother and that everyone is against our family.

On Monday, he addressed the court, saying: “My mother is not the bad person the media has portrayed her to be. »

Grossman’s legal team released a 30-minute video that began with her husband, Dr. Peter Grossman, saying, “We don’t compare our pain to theirs.” » The video showed daughter Alexis recounting how her mother was abandoned by her father and molested by her own mother’s boyfriend, suffering “all kinds of abuse at the age of 13.” Nick described his mother as a “very spiritual person.”

Grossman dropped out of college because she couldn’t afford it, her husband said, and became a flight attendant before starting her own medical device company. He also told the story of a badly burned Afghan girl who was 10 years old when they took her to their home.

“I give my heart and my love to Rebecca,” the now-adult, burned Zubaida said in the video. “She is my mother.”

But Nancy Iskander rejected Grossman’s arguments for compassion. She said that when she was at the hospital and a doctor outside the emergency room asked her to disconnect Jacob’s life support, she saw Grossman there.

“She looked me in the eyes,” the grieving mother said, with tears in her eyes and her voice steely. “It was time to say something.”

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