A former Manhattan nanny who argued she was too mentally ill to be held responsible for stabbing two children to death at their New York home has been convicted.
Jurors on Wednesday found Yoselyn Ortega guilty of murder in the October 2012 deaths of 6-year-old Lucia Krim and her brother, 2-year-old Leo Krim on Oct. 25, 2012. Prosecutors had alleged that the nanny waited until she was the only adult in the apartment before selecting two knives from the kitchen and butchering the children. Their mother found their bodies.
Lucia Krim was stabbed more than 30 times; Leo was stabbed five times. Prosecutors added Ortega knew what she was doing and understood “every stab, every slash.”
The nanny’s lawyer had argued she was mentally ill and should not be held responsible in the deaths of the children.
During a news conference Wednesday afternoon juror David Curtis teared up as he described “raised voices and a lot of tears” as he and his peers deliberated for a day and and a half. But he said their decision came down to “the question of proof” of Ortega’s defense.
“It was not a decision we reached lightly or easily,” he said.
Curtis — who has two children, ages 25 and 26 — said he and the other parents on the panel worked to not put themselves in the the Krim parents’ shoes.
“It is horrifying to think of being in a position of having to experience or process what the Krims had to go through,” he said.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said after the verdict was handed down that his office would seek a sentence of life in prison for the 55 year old from the Dominican Republic.
“No one should ever have to experience the loss of a child, especially at the hands of someone you know,” Vance said at the Wednesday news conference, looking at the Krim parents as he spoke.
The children’s mother, Marina Krim, was the prosecution’s first witness at trial. Krim, who had been at swimming class with her then 3-year-old daughter Nessie, described finding her other two children slaughtered as a horror movie.
“I go down, I walk down the hall and I see the light on under the back of the door, and I’m like, ‘Oh God it’s so quiet in here, oh God. Why is it so … quiet?'” Marina Krim testified. “And I open the door … And I open the door, oh God!”
“It was a scream you can’t imagine is even inside of you,” she said on the stand. “I don’t even know where it came from. I just thought: I’m never going to be able to talk to them ever again. They are dead. I just saw my kids dead.'”
Ortega had worked for about two years for the Krims, who lived in one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, a block from Central Park. By some measures, she had a close relationship with her employers.
Defense attorney Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg said Ortega suffered from severe, undiagnosed mental illness that was not taken seriously in her home country. She said she heard voices, saw visions and that sometimes the voices commanded her to act.
But she was “guarded in her symptoms, reluctant to seek care,” Van Leer-Greenberg said at trial.
Krim testified she saw no signs of severe mental distress, and Ortega’s family never came to her with any concerns.
Prosecutors said Ortega gave police interviews that paint a picture of an unhappy employee: She told authorities that she hurt the children because she was having money problems and was angry at the parents. She also said her schedule constantly shifted and that she had to act as a cleaning lady though she didn’t want to, prosecutors said.
Marina Krim’s husband, Kevin, is a former CNBC executive now at a startup. They use a Facebook page to post updates on how they are doing, writing about the arrival of two new children, Felix born in 2013 and Linus in 2016.
The couple started the Lulu and Leo Fund, which aims to support innovative art programs for children. They recently posted a video message on Facebook asking that people mention the fund as their case becomes news again.