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Jury in Rebecca Grossman murder trial begins deliberation

Jury in Rebecca Grossman murder trial begins deliberation
Jury in Rebecca Grossman murder trial begins deliberation 03:22

Jurors are on their second day of deliberations Friday in the murder trial of Grossman Burn Foundation co-founder Rebecca Grossman, who is charged in a 2020 crash in Westlake Village that left two young brothers dead.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino handed jurors the case after just over a day of closing arguments, including a rebuttal argument in which Deputy District Attorney Ryan Gould urged the nine-man, three-woman panel to "hold the defendant responsible" for the deaths of 11-year-old Mark Iskander and his eight-year-old brother, Jacob.

Grossman, 60, is charged with two counts each of murder and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one felony count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death in connection with the Sept. 29, 2020, crash.

Jurors can consider the lesser charge of vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence if they acquit her of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

In his closing argument Wednesday, lead defense attorney Tony Buzbee asked the panel why it didn't hear during the trial from former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson, whom the defense contends was driving a black Mercedes-Benz SUV that struck the two boys first.

"The defense tried to make this the Scott Erickson trial," the prosecutor said.

Gould told jurors there was "not a shred of evidence" to back up the defense's claim that the black SUV struck the children first, and called it a "ridiculous theory."

The prosecutor said Grossman hit the children as they were in a marked crosswalk and had a "duty to stop," but "never returned" to the scene. He said debris from the crash matched Grossman's white Mercedes-Benz SUV.

The deputy district attorney said that Grossman was "driving too fast" and was "impaired.

She lied about how many alcoholic beverages she consumed, according to the prosecutor, who acknowledged that a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who performed a field sobriety test on Grossman had "made mistakes."

The prosecutor questioned whether it would be worse if the woman was sober when she made the decision to speed, saying that she was "flooring it."

The prosecution contends that Grossman was speeding at 81 mph in a 45- mph zone just seconds before impact, and that data from the vehicle's so-called black box showing that she was driving 73 mph at the time of the crash was reliable.

In her closing argument Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Jamie Castro told the jury that Grossman "continued driving as far as her car would let her" before the vehicle's engine cut off `about one-third of a mile away.

Grossman's lead attorney had told jurors in his closing argument that Grossman was traveling at 54 mph "at best" and didn't know why her airbags had deployed. He said the vehicle rolled to a stop after the collision, and disputed the prosecution's contention that she had fled the scene.

Buzbee alleged that authorities failed to properly investigate the crash and determine who actually hit the boys.

He called the case a "rush to judgment," saying they "put their blinders on" and didn't consider that anyone else might be responsible for the crash.

"Where is Scott Erickson? Where is the guy?" Buzbee said in his first of repeated references to Erickson during his closing argument.

He told jurors that "Erickson hit the kids first," and questioned why the prosecution hadn't called the ex-baseball player during the case.

The defense attorney noted that "You couldn't keep me away from this courthouse" to clear his own name if someone were accusing him.

He urged jurors to acquit Grossman of all of the charges, saying that the prosecution had brought a murder case but had not been able to prove what happened the night of the crash.

"I think we now have seen she ain't guilty of anything," Buzbee told the panel.

Grossman is free on $2 million bond. She could face up to 34 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged.

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