Jurors start deliberations in the Rebecca Grossman murder trial

Dr. Peter Grossman walks with his wife, Rebecca Grossman, to the Van Nuys courthouse in late January.
Dr. Peter Grossman walks with his wife, Rebecca Grossman, to the Van Nuys courthouse in late January.

Rebecca Grossman’s defense attorney called the law enforcement investigation into a double fatal Westlake Village crash terrible, the evidence weak and witness statements inconsistent.

Mark and Jacob Iskander were crossing a Westlake Village road with their mom and younger brother on Sept. 29, 2020, when they were struck and killed. Grossman, 60, of Hidden Hills, has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run driving. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Over the past several weeks, dozens of witnesses have testified in her trial and attorneys wrapped up closing arguments early Thursday. By mid-morning, jurors began deliberating.

Grossman's lead attorney Tony Buzbee started his closing argument with a question: Where is Scott Erickson? The defense team says a black SUV driven by Erickson, their client's then-boyfriend and former pro baseball player, passed through the crosswalk before Grossman. Her lawyers say the black vehicle hit the boys.

“They’re prosecuting the wrong person,” Buzbee told jurors.

But prosecutors say there is not a shred of evidence that Erickson hit the boys. He almost hit them, but he did not hit them, Deputy District Attorney Jamie Castro said.

Crash that killed Mark and Jacob Iskander 'not a tragic accident'

Mark, 11, and Jacob, 8, were in the crosswalk with their family shortly after 7 p.m. on that Tuesday. The family was crossing to get to the lake side of the road. But Mark and Jacob never made it.

As two vehicles sped toward the intersection, the boys' mom, Nancy Iskander, testified that she grabbed her youngest son, the closest to her, and dove out of the way of a black SUV. She saw the black vehicle pass without hitting anyone, she said. She looked up and saw the white SUV go through the spot where her sons had just been.

Prosecutors say Grossman’s speed had reached 81 mph just seconds before the crash. At impact, the Mercedes black box recorded her speed at 73 mph. The speed limit was 45.

“This was not a tragic accident,” Castro told jurors during her closing argument. “This was murder.”

Mark likely died within minutes if not seconds, an expert testified. Paramedics rushed Jacob to Los Robles Regional Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead. Both boys' injuries were consistent with a single vehicle hitting them at a high rate of speed, the forensic pathologist said.

Under cross examination, the pathologist said he could not rule out that the boys were hit by multiple vehicles, which Buzbee brought up to jurors in his closing.

Rebecca Grossman’s defense attorney: Black vehicle hit Mark

On the night of the crash, Grossman had been driving to her home near Westlake Lake after having a margarita with Erickson and his friend Royce Clayton at a nearby restaurant.

The three planned to meet up at Grossman's house to watch the presidential debate. Clayton had stopped at a store, and Erickson and Grossman headed toward her home, according to earlier testimony. Erickson drove his black Mercedes SUV, and she drove her white Mercedes SUV.

The Iskanders were in the crosswalk when witnesses say they saw and heard vehicles speeding toward them.

Days after a fatal crash, flowers and stuffed animals filled a roadside memorial for Mark and Jacob Iskander. The brothers were struck and killed on Sept. 29, 2020.
Days after a fatal crash, flowers and stuffed animals filled a roadside memorial for Mark and Jacob Iskander. The brothers were struck and killed on Sept. 29, 2020.

One of the defense experts said the black SUV hit the boys, causing Mark to vault over the vehicle and land on Grossman’s hood. But several of the prosecution's experts testified her SUV's damage matched both boys' injuries and was inconsistent with a child landing on top of her hood.

The defense has disputed Grossman's speed and said investigators took few photos at the scene and did not book some of the debris into evidence. Buzbee also has questioned whether anyone inspected the vehicle Erickson drove that night.

Prosecutor: No evidence of black SUV hitting boys

In 2021, Erickson, who never testified in Grossman's trial, was charged with reckless driving, a misdemeanor. The court ordered judicial diversion, and the case was later resolved.

Grossman also did not testify at her trial.

The defense tried to make this the Scott Erickson trial, Deputy District Attorney Ryan Gould told jurors during the prosecution's rebuttal argument Thursday. The defense could have issued a subpoena for Erickson, Gould said.

There was no evidence that linked the black SUV to hitting the children, Gould told jurors.

Grossman drove at 80-plus mph on a residential street in a neighborhood that she knew, he told jurors. She knew what she did was "incredibly dangerous," Gould said.

"Hold the defendant responsible for murdering Mark and Jacob," he said.

Cheri Carlson covers the environment and county government for the Ventura County Star. Reach her at cheri.carlson@vcstar.com or 805-437-0260.

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Rebecca Grossman murder trial: Jurors start deliberations