Van Nuys Judge Denies Jury Field Trip in Rebecca Grossman Trial: Experts and Testimony to Suffice

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA — The upcoming trial of Rebecca Grossman, a Hidden Hills resident charged with second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter, and hit-and-run driving resulting in death, hit a snag on January 8. The Van Nuys judge presiding over the case ruled against allowing the jury to visit the scene of the alleged crime. The incident in question occurred over three years ago, and the defense argued that the site may have changed since then. Instead, the judge deemed photographs and witness testimony sufficient for the jury to understand the events.

Grossman was accused of speeding and striking Mark and Jacob Iskander, ages 11 and 8, as they crossed a Westlake Village street with their family in September 2020. The defendant’s defense team includes a DUI law specialist from Houston, Mark Thiessen. During the pretrial hearing, Thiessen challenged the evidence of impairment presented by the prosecution and sought to exclude some expert witnesses.

The prosecution requested that Thiessen’s toxicology expert be prevented from testifying about documentation not shared by an Orange County lab. The lab claimed that the information in question, which includes data from other individuals tested alongside Grossman, is confidential. However, the judge decided that the expert could comment on potential contamination during testing without revealing personal details. Thiessen also called into question the reliability of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department crime lab’s screening method for blood-alcohol evidence. The judge reserved judgment on this matter.

Additionally, the defense sought to include an expert witness, former Houston police officer Donald Egdorf, to challenge the DUI investigation conducted by the sheriff’s department. The prosecution argued that Egdorf’s report lacked specificity and put them at a disadvantage in cross-examination. Despite the late addition of Egdorf to the defense’s witness list, the judge declined to rule him out, stating that if the sobriety test legality is called into question, the prosecution should be prepared, as it will come up during the defense’s case.

Finally, the judge allowed three videos of pedestrian-vehicle collisions demonstrating the “vaulting phenomenon,” in which individuals struck by cars are propelled into the air. The defense had sought to present six such videos to support its theory of how the accident occurred, but the prosecution deemed them irrelevant.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on January 16, marking the start of Grossman’s trial. The jury will not be able to visit the scene of the incident, but instead will rely on photographs and witness testimony to consider the evidence against the defendant.