An attorney for Rebecca Grossman, the LA-area socialite accused of murder for running over two boys with her SUV at a Westlake Village crosswalk, offered a preview of her defense on Tuesday, denying prosecutors’ claims about her speed and called the pedestrian crossing a known hazard.
The 58-year-old Hidden Hills resident and co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation is awaiting trial for the September 2020 second-degree murder of brothers Mark and Jacob Iskander after the California Supreme Court last month refused to consider the parole Fees.
During a court hearing Tuesday, the judge did not set a trial date after the prosecutor noted that Grossman’s attorneys have not yet produced all of their expert evidence. A hearing has been set for next month, which would likely delay the trial until late spring, prosecutors said.
In addition to bringing in experts to dispute the speed of Grossman’s vehicle in the fatal collision, prominent Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said Tuesday he had collected evidence showing the city of Westlake Village knew the crosswalk was there on Triunfo Canyon Road was dangerous and was described by the city engineer as a “blind turn” for motorists.
Buzbee said two independent experts, “based on objective data” and supported by a witness, determined Grossman’s speed at the time of the crash was 51.9 mph, but Grossman’s legal team offered no specific data. The posted speed limit on this section of Triunfo Canyon Road is 45 mph.
Technical experts from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department testified in an earlier hearing that data extracted from the computers in Grossman’s Mercedes-Benz showed that its top speed was 81 miles per hour as it approached the crosswalk, and was still 73 miles per hour at the moment of impact.
Buzbee provided reporters with city documents Tuesday showing the pedestrian crossing was described as a “blind turn” by the city engineer, along with emailed complaints from citizens.
If “someone is killed, I hope the family will know it has been repeatedly reported and sue the city for negligence,” one of the emails said. Buzbee noted that the Iskander brothers’ parents have sued the town of Westlake Village along with Grossman over her death.
In September, LA County Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino denied a motion to dismiss the murder charges against Grossman, noting that there was probable ground for finding that she had acted with implied malice by speeding was when Mark (11) and Jacob (8) drove together with their mother and younger brother crossing the street.
Brandolino confirmed the murder allegations and said it was clear that not only did Grossman drive at 73 miles per hour after consuming alcohol at the crosswalk, but he was familiar with the area and knew there were often pedestrians. A lawmaker testified that months before the fatal accident, Grossman had received a speeding ticket on a nearby ravine road.
The crosswalk was clearly marked, Brandolino noted, and Grossman followed close behind an SUV driven by her boyfriend, former Dodgers player Scott Erickson.
But Brandolino contradicted Judge Shellie Samuels, who was overseeing the preliminary hearing, on one point in that ruling. “I don’t think the evidence shows that she saw the children,” he said.
Prosecutors said evidence showed Grossman “fell down” on the suburban street behind Erickson’s SUV after drinking with him, adding that Grossman’s blood alcohol level was about 0.08%, the legal limit for intoxication in California. She will not be charged with DUI.
Grossman also faces two counts of reckless vehicle homicide and one count of hit and run resulting in death. LA County Sheriff’s Deputy testified in a preliminary hearing that Grossman did not return to the scene and did not provide assistance after the crash.
Nancy Iskander, Mark and Jacob’s mother, has repeatedly complained about delays in court proceedings and said they represent more than two years of her family’s suffering.
Grossman founded with her husband Dr. Peter Grossman, whose family founded the prestigious medical institution, the Grossman Burn Foundation.
If convicted, she faces 34 years to life imprisonment. She has pleaded not guilty and is out on $2 million bail.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.