Rebecca Grossman said in the ER she would be home if Mercedes hadn't disabled her car, EMT testifies

Rebecca Grossman tightly holding on to her husband Peter Grossman on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024 in Van Nuys, CA
Rebecca Grossman, holding on to her husband, Peter, heads into Van Nuys Courthouse West on Jan. 23, 2024 in Van Nuys. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

A Hidden Hills driver on trial for a hit-and-run killing of two boys said in an emergency room after her arrest that she would be home in her garage if the car's safety system had not disabled her Mercedes, a hospital technician testified Thursday.

The startling testimony came during Rebecca Grossman's murder trial in the deaths of brothers Mark and Jacob Iskander, 11 and 8, who were run down while crossing Triunfo Canyon Road at Saddle Mountain Drive in Westlake Village with their mother on Sept. 29, 2020.

Grossman, 60, is charged with two counts of murder, vehicular manslaughter and hit-run. Thursday's testimony seemed to be an effort by prosecutors to support their allegation that she was seeking to flee in her heavily damaged Mercedes when the SUV's safety system made the vehicle inoperable, about a third of a mile beyond the crosswalk.

Emergency medical technician Teryl Grasso testified she was working in the emergency room at Los Robles Regional Medical Center when Grossman was admitted after the crash.

"If they didn't disable my car, I would have been at home in my garage right now," Grossman said, according to Grasso under questioning by Deputy Dist. Atty. Jamie Castro.

Read more: Rebecca Grossman trial: Lawyer says police didn't check other car in crash that killed 2 brothers

Tony Buzbee, Grossman's lead attorney, immediately asked why Grasso said "she was stalking the news," seemingly insinuating she could have a bias and read all the stories about the incident. Buzbee also asked why it took three years for Grasso to come forward with the allegation.

The stalking phrase immediately led to objections from prosecutors, but Buzbee said it was Grasso's phrase.

"I was stalking the news and I had to go therapy too," Grasso replied. "I was traumatized".

Grasso said she was prompted to come forward because of Grossman's multiple comments that night and her behavior at the time. "I am not saying she did not care about those kids,"' Grasso added.

Castro then asked whether she delayed coming forward because she was unsure if speaking would violate federal law that protects patient's privacy.

Grasso said that was correct and that she eventually sought advice on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and learned she could report comments under these circumstances.

Grasso testified that she had therapy for nine months in connection with the incident. "I still cannot talk about that night without crying," she said.

Buzbee earlier in the trial got a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy to acknowledge that when they found Grossman standing in front of her damaged vehicle it was about three-tenths of a mile from her home at the time in Westlake Village.

On Wednesday, Deputy Rafael Mejia testified that he found Grossman standing in front of her Mercedes a short distance from the crash site. The SUV had visible front-end damage, including a buckled fender on the passenger side, which sheriff's officials photographed.

"She told me her vehicle was disabled by Mercedes-Benz and her air bags went off, and she did not know what was going on," Mejia said. "She said she hit something, but she didn't know what she hit."

Read more: Rebecca Grossman's lawyer points finger at ex-Dodgers pitcher as murder trial begins

Mejia said he noticed what appeared to be blood spatter on Grossman's vehicle, but acknowledged that he did not have it analyzed. He said the only parts found at the scene were from Grossman's vehicle.

Prosecutors have presented witnesses that show that Grossman and her then-boyfriend, Scott Erickson, 55, a former pitcher for the Dodgers, sped through the intersection that evening after having drinks at a nearby restaurant.

Prosecutors on Thursday asked to put Royce Clayton, a former baseball player who had been drinking with Grossman and Erickson that night, back on the witness stand to clarify his previous testimony.

Clayton testified early this week explaining why he is no longer friends with Erickson. "I just don’t understand how he could be so negligent, and be responsible for running down kids."

The judge, however, declined to allow Clayton back on the stand Thursday.

Much of Thursday was spent with Grossman's legal team showing numerous shortcomings in how Deputy Michael Kelley conducted a sobriety test on Grossman when he arrested her. Kelley repeatedly conceded he did not follow very exact national standards for determining whether Grossman was impaired, including requiring that she walk a line and failing to time her during a one-legged stand.

Though she is not charged with driving under the influence, prosecutors say Grossman was impaired. An on-site breathalyzer test showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.076%, slightly below California’s legal limit of 0.08%. A blood sample taken three hours after the crash registered at the 0.08% mark. In addition, Valium was found in her blood, according to prosecutors.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.