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Mother of two young Conejo Valley boys killed in hit and run says killer's sentence was 'disappointing'

Mark and Jacob's parents, Nancy and Karim Iskander, leave court on Monday after the sentencing of Rebecca Grossman, for their murders
Caroline Feraday
/
KCLU
Mark and Jacob's parents, Nancy and Karim Iskander, leave court on Monday after the sentencing of Rebecca Grossman, for their murders

Nancy Iskander, whose two children were killed in a Westlake Village crosswalk in 2020, criticized the length of the 15-year sentence given to Rebecca Grossman, the woman convicted of their murders.

What price a life…is a question Nancy Iskander has asked herself every day for the last three and a half years since two of her sons, Mark and Jacob Iskander, were mown down by a hit and run driver as they used a Westlake Village Crosswalk. Yesterday, she found out the answer - as Rebecca Grossman, the woman convicted of their second degree murders, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

In sentencing, Judge Joseph Brandolino chose to run two 15 year terms for their murders concurrently. A decision which, their mother says, was disappointing.

"No children go two for one. Every kid is different. Every person is different. No two lives go, two for one. It meant something and it hurt my heart. The real slap on the face really was the fact that she will not have to serve any time for the hit and run. What kind of judge would do that? Why?" questioned Nancy Iskander on Tuesday.

Jacob died later at hospital from his injuries, Mark died at the scene
Nancy Iskander
Jacob died later at hospital from his injuries, Mark died at the scene

The Judge praised the way Nancy Iskander conducted herself throughout the grueling legal process, and after spending yesterday hearing how the loss of her sons impacted their young friends, their teachers, their neighbors and family.

Nancy is she’s spending her time the day after the sentencing creating their legacy - a foster care agency in the Conejo Valley named after the boys.

"There's an opportunity to foster a child in Ventura County or in LA, with agencies or with the county. We will be different. We are here because there are gaps and we are going to find the gap and stand in it," explained Iskander.

"There are gaps in terms of teenagers looking for homes. We need to solve the problem. There cannot be that many teenagers not finding a place in the world, not finding loving parents," she said resolutely.

Nancy says that her sons lived in a happy home, and she’s determined to make that happen for others.

"Happy home means I want to be at home. I want to be around my parents. I want to be guided by my parents. And that's everything in the life of a little child because they needed it too," she said.

"We had so much fun as a family, we liked playing games every afternoon," she said.

Nancy says her own mother is an inspirational maternal figure to her, but the loss of her eldest grandson has been a weight too great to carry.

"My mom is very brave. I was brought up by her as she was a single mom. I call her my rock and I've been seeing her dying since she lost Mark," said Nancy.

"Mark was her first grandkid. He was her everything. He was the reward she got after a hard life of raising kids on her own. And the one thing she feared for many years is that something would happen to her. She would die and leave him. She had told me many times, I don't want to die because Mark's heart will be broken. So the fact that he died first is been slowly killing her."

When she talks of her sons, her eyes smile at their memory. But she says she can’t fully heal without their killer taking responsibility for her crimes.

"What is forgiveness to me? Forgiveness is whenever I'm able to look past through what she's done and see the person behind it and see her behind it. So the day she says, 'I'm sorry' and owns up to it, I'll be able to look past the killing and see the person who made the mistake. But until that happens, she's still holding on to the murders in between us. I'm not able to forgive. How can you forgive someone who's not sorry?" she said.

Iskandar says she hopes one day to hear their killer take responsibility for her crimes, even if that means visiting her in prison and speaking to her there.

"I'll ask her again. Can you say, 'I am sorry I killed Mark and Jacob?' Yes or no? I look forward to hearing a good response to that," said Nancy.

More details on the Mark and Jacob Foster Care Ministry can be found here.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.