A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss murder charges against Hidden Hills socialite Rebecca Grossman, whose vehicle allegedly struck two boys in a crosswalk while traveling more than 70 mph.
Judge Joseph Brandolino denied a motion to dismiss two counts of murder, finding there was probable cause to determine that Grossman acted with implied malice when his vehicle accelerated through a 45 mph zone and hit youngsters Mark and Jacob Iskander in a marked Westlake Village crosswalk.
To secure a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutor Ryan Gould must prove that Grossman acted with implied malice and knew that driving over 70 mph in a residential area was dangerous to human life.
The judge found she met the physical standard with her actions, but said whether she had a mental condition for the crime to be murder was a ‘closer call’ with a tough test. She also faces two counts of gross negligence manslaughter and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death.
The judge said that after reading 1,000 pages of the preliminary hearing transcript, it was clear that Grossman had not only driven 73 mph through the crosswalk after consuming alcohol, but that he also knew the neighborhood and knew that there were often pedestrians. He also said the crosswalk was clearly marked and she was following a friend in her SUV closely.
But Brandolino disagreed with Judge Shellie Samuels, who oversaw the preliminary inquiry, on one point. “I don’t believe the evidence shows she saw the children,” he said.
Nancy Iskander, mother of Mark and Jacob who took to the streets in hopes of preventing her children from being harmed, said she was “very grateful, very happy that all charges have been upheld”. She said the procedure represented two years of suffering for her family. “That’s enough,” she said, shedding tears after the hearing.
Jonathan Schneller, one of Grossman’s attorneys, tried several times throughout the hearing to convince the judge that Grossman’s actions resembled those of thousands of Californians who drive dangerously. He said she had engaged in “undeniably dangerous conduct”, but would a reasonable person believe it would lead to murder? He asked.
He noted that Grossman already faces additional counts of manslaughter while driving a car, which carries a six-year prison sentence. He said that under the law, implied malicious murder is equivalent to shooting a gun in a crowded room.
Dist. Deputy Atty Gould reminded the judge ahead of the ruling that Grossman “floored” him on the suburban street around 7 p.m. on September 29, 2020, after drinking with his friend Erickson at Julio’s in Westlake Village. When she hit Mark, 11, and Jacob, 8, walking with the mother and brother, “she didn’t return to the scene. She doesn’t help.
Gould noted that Grossman’s blood alcohol level was 0.08%, the legal limit for intoxication in California. Yes
Grossman faces 34 years to life in prison if convicted. She pleaded not guilty and has been out of jail for 20 months on $2 million bond.