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Rebecca Grossman sentenced to 15 years to life for crash that killed two brothers

Rebecca Grossman sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for deadly 2020 crash in Westlake Village
Rebecca Grossman sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for deadly 2020 crash in Westlake Village 02:56

Socialite Rebecca Grossman was sentenced Monday to 15 years to life for the 2020 deaths of two young brothers.

Grossman, co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation, was convicted by a Los Angeles jury in February of two counts each of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter and one count of hit-and-run driving for the 2020 crash that killed 11-year-old Mark Iskander and his brother, 8-year-old Jacob. The boys were struck as they walked with their family in a Westlake Village crosswalk. 

Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino rejected a prosecution request that Grossman be sentenced to 34 years to life, saying such a lengthy term is "just not warranted here." 

Grossman, who will turn 61 on Friday, spoke at her sentencing hearing and told the family how sorry she was, and insisted that she never saw the boys in the street the night of the crash. 

"God knows that I never saw anybody," she said. "I never saw anyone. I believe he knows the truth."

Prosecutors had asked for the 34 years to life, writing that she is "more than deserving" of the maximum sentencing for the Sept. 29, 2020, deaths of Mark and Jacob.

In their sentencing memorandum, Deputy District Attorneys Ryan Gould, Jamie Castro and Habib Balian wrote that the defendant's actions since the night of the crash "show a complete lack of remorse and narcissistic superiority that leads to only one conclusion, that she is undeserving of any leniency." 

Last week, Grossman's new defense attorneys James Spertus and Samuel Josephs countered that "there was a terrible accident, and Ms. Grossman is responsible for causing the accident, but the offense conduct does not warrant a life sentence or the type of lengthy prison term reserved for the most callous, heinous crimes." 

During a hearing on June 3, the judge rejected a motion for a new trial that was filed by Spertus and Josephs, who replaced the team of lawyers that represented Grossman during the trial.  

RELATED: LA County judge denies Rebecca Grossman's request for new murder trial

Grossman's attorneys asked for a sentence of probation or the lower state prison term of just over 12 years on the vehicular manslaughter charges.   

Judge Brandolino called the children's deaths an "unimaginable loss," and referred to Grossman's lack of any criminal record and history of philanthropic activity. 

While conceding that the defendant engaged in "incredibly selfish behavior" after the crash, the judge added, "She's not a monster as the prosecution attempts to portray her here."

Grossman sent a letter to the judge saying, "I am not a murderer, and I ask you to recognize that true fact. My pain, my recognition of the pain the Iskanders suffer, and the pain I watch my family endure, are punishments that I already suffer and will for the rest of my life. Please consider this suffering when you consider what more punishment to impose on me in this case."

During the hours-long sentencing on Monday, Grossman could be seen crying as people spoke during the hearing. She said she was advised by her attorneys not to reach out to the boys' family, as it would amount to "tampering with witnesses."

She added that she would have "driven into a brick wall" rather than strike two children. She said the boys' deaths are something she will carry with her "until my dying breath."

The boys' mother, Nancy Iskander, said during the hearing that she disputes Grossman's assertion that she was advised by her attorneys not to try to speak to the victims' parents. She also said she saw Grossman outside the hospital emergency room that night.

"She looked me in the eye!" Iskander said, her voice rising. "You looked me in the eye. You knew they were dying."

During Grossman's six-week trial, defense attorneys had tried to pin the deadly crash on Grossman's then-boyfriend and former LA Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson, claiming his black Mercedes-Benz SUV struck the two boys first.

Prosecutors said the boys were crossing the street with their family in a marked crosswalk when they were hit by Grossman's vehicle. Gould, the deputy district attorney, told jurors in his closing argument that debris from the crash matched Grossman's vehicle.  

He 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 prosecution claimed Grossman was going as fast as 81 mph, almost twice the legal speed limit, just seconds before the crash. Data from her car showed that she was driving at about 73 mph at the time of the crash, according to the district attorney's office.   

In the typed letter Grossman wrote the judge before Monday's hearing, she said she penned a letter and left roses at the scene of the crash and has "relived the life-shattering split second of the accident over and over in my head a million times." But she maintained that she was "not driving under the influence of alcohol or impaired, and I was not racing."

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