Double murder: Grossman sentenced to 15 years to life for crash that killed brothers (2024)

A judge on Monday sentenced Rebecca Grossman to 15 years to life in state prison stemming froma crash that killed two Westlake Village brothers nearly four years ago.

Grossman, 60, was driving her whiteMercedes SUV 73 mphin a 45-mph zone when she hit Mark and Jacob Iskander on Sept. 29, 2020.

The boys, 11 and 8, had been crossing the road with their mom and younger brother. After the crash, Grossman, of Hidden Hills,didn’t stop untilthe Mercedes crash safety features cut off the fuel, prosecutors said.

Along with second-degree murder, a jury found Grossman guilty of two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit-and-run driving. She faced a possiblemaximum sentence of 34 years to life in prison

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino sentenced her to the 15 years to life on both murder counts and three years on hit-and-run driving, all to run concurrently.

The judge thanked Nancy Iskander for speaking about the family’s deep pain and unimaginable loss. No penalty will seem harsh enough given the magnitude of the loss, he said.

Grossman was reckless, unquestionably grossly negligent and engaged in dangerous behavior, he said.

“But she’s not a monster as the prosecution attempts to portray her,” Brandolino said.

She is 60, has no criminal history and engaged in philanthropy. A 34 years to life sentence is not warranted, the judge said.

Double murder: Grossman sentenced to 15 years to life for crash that killed brothers (1)

Family, friends speak about Iskander boys

More than a dozen of the Iskanders' family members, friends, the boys' teachers and classmates spoke inside the Van Nuys courtroom on Monday. They shared stories about Mark and Jacob, sometimes through tears, and talked about the pain of losing both of them.

Mark dreamed of becoming a neurosurgeon or a stand-up comedian. He was quick to raise his hand in class or help his brother with homework. He always had a new factoid to share or joke to tell.

Jacob looked up to his older brother. His favorite animal was a cougar and his laugh could fill rooms. He was the protector, the boys' mom, Nancy Iskander, said Monday.

When Jacob died, Bodie Wallace lost his best friend, the former classmate told the judge Monday. Bodie repeated Jacob's favorite joke and told Brandolino the name of Jacob's favorite song. He cries when he hears that song, but what hurts him the most is that Zachary had to see what happened, he said.

On the night of the crash, Nancy Iskander grabbed her youngestson, the closest one to her, and dove out of the path of the first vehicle, a black SUV. She looked up and saw the white SUV pass the spot where her other sons had just been, she said.

Mark likely died within minutes if not seconds,an expert testified during the trial. Paramedics rushed Jacob to Los Robles Regional Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.

Nancy Iskander talks about her sons

Zachary, 5 at the time of the crash, continues to struggle, his mom told the judge Monday. On the night of the crash, Zachary heard the deputy tell his mom that Mark was dead. He saw paramedics trying to resuscitate Jacob.

That night at the hospital, Nancy Iskander saw Grossman. Iskander was in the emergency room with Jacob, and the doctors had just told her he wasn’t breathing on his own. They asked about disconnecting life support, she said.

Iskander walked outside in disbelief when she saw Grossman, who was taken to the hospital by the police.

Grossman has said she hasn’t had the opportunity to talk to the Iskanders, but she had the chance that night, Nancy Iskander said in the courtroom.

“She looked me in the eye,” she said, raising her voice from behind a podium. “That was your opportunity.”

Double murder: Grossman sentenced to 15 years to life for crash that killed brothers (2)

Prosecution seeks maximum sentence

Attorneys’ descriptions of Grossman differed starkly during her sentencing.

Prosecutors described Grossman as without remorse and having a lack of respect for the rule of law. She never apologized or admitted guilt, Deputy District Attorney Ryan Gould said Monday. She blamed others and repeatedly violated court orders.

“This wasn’t a tragic accident,” Gould said. “This was a preventable murder.”

The prosecution had asked the judge to impose two consecutive sentences of 15 years to life and an additional four years for hit-and-run driving.

Meanwhile, Grossman’s attorneys described their client, the cofounder of the Grossman Burn Foundation, as a mother and philanthropist who grew up with hardships and abuse. They asked that she receive probation.

Her actions just after the crash were consistent with someone in complete shock, her attorney Samuel Josephs told the judge. He cited court orders, saying she didn’t have an opportunity to express remorse to the Iskanders.

Probation may not be typical for vehicular murder, but this is far from the typical case, her attorneys said.

Grossman: 'I never saw anyone'

Grossman, who didn't testify during her trial, stood up, facing the Iskanders as she made her own statement Monday.

"I just wanted to be a human being," Grossman said of wanting to talk to the boys' family.

When she couldn't talk parent to parent or mother to mother, she wanted "to leave this world," she said. She said Monday that she would give her life if it could bring Mark and Jacob back.

"God knows, I never saw anybody. I never saw anyone," she said of the crash.

After she finished, she sat down at the defense table, sobbing, her head down.

Earlier, her attorneys had played a video of her family and friends talking about her work with the Grossman Burn Foundation and her character. Her teenage son and daughter then stood together in the courtroom, taking turns speaking about their mom. Alexis Grossman, 19, told the judge that her mom never had malice in her heart.

"Please don't take my mom away from me for too long," she said crying.

Prosectors: Disappointed in the sentence

Outside of the courthouse Monday, Deputy District Attorneys Gould and Jamie Castro said they respect the process but were disappointed with the sentence. Grossman failed to take any responsibility for what she did even in her statement during Monday's hearing, Gould said.

"We don't think the judge gave a sentence that was appropriate in light of everything that Ms. Grossman has done," he said.

He continued, adding that they were happy that justice had been done, he said.

"Hopefully, this finally being done will give the Iskanders some closure and the opportunity to move forward with their lives," Gould said.

Cheri Carlson covers the environment and county government for the Ventura County Star. Reach her atcheri.carlson@vcstar.comor 805-437-0260

Double murder: Grossman sentenced to 15 years to life for crash that killed brothers (2024)
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