Rebecca Grossman, accused of killing two boys with her SUV, will not testify in her trial

Rebecca Grossman, accused of running down two young boys in a Westlake Village crosswalk, won't be testifying in her murder trial.

In a near-whisper, the Hidden Hills resident told the judge Tuesday that she was opting not to address jurors. Grossman's lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, then rested the defense. With that move, Friday's emotional testimony from Grossman's daughter Alexis became the last word from defense witnesses.

Closing arguments will be presented Wednesday in the six-week trial, which has included graphic details, emotional outbursts and harrowing, often surprising testimony.

Alexis Grossman told jurors on Friday that the night Mark Iskander, 11, and his brother Jacob, 8, were run down in a crosswalk, she had a frightening encounter with former Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson, with whom her mother was romantically involved. The 19-year-old said that after the crash, she saw Erickson hiding behind a nearby tree. She testified that he smelled of alcohol and threatened to "ruin" her and her family if she told investigators what she'd seen.

Read more: Liquor, Valium, speed and recklessness: The D.A.'s case against Rebecca Grossman

On Tuesday, seeking to counter the teenager's testimony, prosecutors called on Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Cody Gaudet, who testified that no one had been reported hiding in the area where Alexis Grossman said she saw Erickson.

“Nobody called in someone hiding in the bushes,” Gaudet testified. “We go to calls like that all the time in Westlake Village." He said residents of the upscale neighborhood are vigilant and that a person hiding near the scene of a fatality would have drawn deputies’ attention.

Buzbee asked the deputy if a person could have parked on a side road.

“They could,” Gaudet replied.

Rebecca Grossman, 60, faces two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one count of hit-and-run driving. She's accused of driving her white Mercedes SUV in a 45-mph zone on Triunfo Canyon Road at speeds reaching 81 mph before hitting the brothers while traveling at more than 70 mph. Prosecutors say the boys were following their mother and 5-year-old brother through a crosswalk.

A woman in a burgundy blazer and glasses walks with a teenager with long blond hair and wearing a green cardigan.
Rebecca Grossman and daughter Alexis head to Van Nuys Courthouse West last week. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Investigators testifying for the prosecution told jurors that Grossman wouldn't have hit the boys if she had been driving at the speed limit. They said that after the collision, she didn't stop for three-tenths of a mile, after her airbags had deployed and the vehicle's fuel cut-off safety system caused the SUV to come to a halt.

Alexis Grossman's tearful testimony was presented to bolster the defense argument that Erickson — not Rebecca Grossman — was the first to strike the boys on the night of Sept. 29, 2020.

Rebecca Grossman had been with Erickson that night at a Westlake Village restaurant, where they had cocktails. She was following closely behind Erickson when she drove through the crosswalk.

Buzbee has maintained that it was the black Mercedes SUV driven by Erickson that first hit the brothers and that one boy was tossed onto Grossman's hood. He presented witnesses who testified that she was driving responsibly, was not impaired and was traveling at no more than 52 mph. The defense also contends that the incident occurred outside the crosswalk.

On Friday, in Grossman's first comment on the six-week trial, she told a Times reporter that prosecutors didn't care about getting to the bottom of what happened. Through tears, she said the prosecutors "aren't truth seekers" as they blocked efforts by her attorneys to ask questions about evidence that was barred before trial by the judge.

Time and again on Tuesday as he questioned witnesses, Buzbee asked if Erickson's 2016 Mercedes AMG GL63 had been examined — the primary investigators have admitted they did not do so — and asked if efforts were made to find Erickson.

Jurors have heard testimony that Erickson told investigators he was driving a 2007 Mercedes the night of the incident; images from video show it was more likely his 2016 Mercedes. An investigator admitted that he found out Erickson used the same license plate on both vehicles — if true, a felony offense.

On Tuesday, a crash reconstruction expert for the prosecution pushed back against statements by a defense expert witness that the discovery of one of the bodies 254 feet from the crosswalk was because it rolled after being struck. John Grindey, a former California Highway Patrol officer, said there was no evidence to support that scenario.

Buzbee presented a chart to show what he said was conflicting testimony in the case. Witnesses had differed on the lane where the boys were struck and how many impacts occurred. Some said the left lane, some the right, and some heard or saw one or two impacts.

The chart included an image of a man scratching his head. Deputy Dist. Atty. Jamie Castro objected to the image, which Buzbee said was of himself. Grindey commented that it "appears to be you."

Read more: Grossman's daughter testifies Scott Erickson threatened her after she saw him hiding near fatal crash scene

"And lots of us," retorted Buzbee as he continued to attempt to sow seeds of doubt.

Michael Hale, an Orange County district attorney’s investigator, also took the witness stand Tuesday, seeking to refute defense experts who claimed that the data recorder, or "black box," from Grossman’s Mercedes AMG GLE43 was inaccurate.

Prosecution witnesses testified that black box data showed that the Mercedes reached 81 mph before lightly braking and striking the boys at 73 mph.

Defense experts said they believed the data were unreliable because the system showed an average speed over the vehicle’s lifetime of more than 500 mph.

Hale insisted that the data on the acceleration of Grossman's vehicle were accurate.

Questioning Hale, Buzbee immediately switched the focus to Erickson’s vehicle, asking the witness: “Were you ever asked to find Erickson’s car and see what the front end looked like?"

Hale replied that he was not.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.