National News

Nanny Who Killed 2 Children Is Sentenced to Life in Prison

Posted May 14, 2018 6:34 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — Before a judge sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally stabbing two young children, Yoselyn Ortega, a former nanny, spoke for the first time since the start of her trial and tearfully begged for forgiveness.

“I’m very sorry for everything that happened,” she said in Spanish, her face flushed. It was an unusual display of emotion for Ortega, who during the six-week trial had appeared detached.

The judge, Gregory Carro, sentenced Ortega, 55, to the maximum penalty for the stabbing deaths of the two children in her care — Leo Krim, 2, and his sister Lucia, 6, on Oct. 25, 2012.

The trial ended last month with the jury rejecting Ortega’s defense that she could not be held responsible because she had suffered from a mental disease or defect and lacked the capacity to understand her actions or to know that they were wrong. She was found guilty of first- and second-degree murder.

Before the sentencing, the children’s mother, Marina Krim, said Ortega had not succeeded in her ultimate goal: “The defendant set out to destroy what Kevin and I had created and built — an inspired, happy, thriving family. But she failed.”

Instead, she destroyed her own family, Krim said. Ortega, dressed in a light gray, long-sleeved shirt, dropped her head as Krim began to speak, her eyes closed.

“She has destroyed the pride her family once felt. She’s destroyed any sense of peace they’ll ever have,” Krim said.

The Krims have said that Ortega and her family deceived them, claiming that Ortega was an experienced nanny when she was not. The couple is pushing for legislation that would make lying on child care applications a crime.

The Krims, who have had two other children since 2012, said they see in the younger siblings constant reminders of Leo and Lucia, who was known as Lulu.

“The defendant may think she destroyed Lulu and Leo. But she is a failure in this, too,” Krim, visibly trembling, said through tears. “Lulu and Leo are powerful forces. They are two stars now, that will always lead us forward.”

After speaking, Krim sat back in the second row, closed her eyes and sobbed.

Kevin Krim asked the judge to sentence Ortega to the maximum penalty to ensure “that the defendant can never leave prison alive. The defendant knows nothing of responsibility or remorse. It is right that she should live and rot and die in a concrete and metal cage.”

Nine of the jurors and alternates from the trial were in court Monday to witness the sentencing, crowded together in the second row, opposite the family.

“We all became like a family during this trial,” said Darnell Jones, who was known during the trial as juror No. 9. “I’ve never been a part of something that mattered so much to people’s lives.”

The killings stunned parents throughout the city, where many rely on others for help with child care and often base their decisions about caregivers on word-of-mouth recommendations. The sentencing put an end to a yearslong case that had been delayed as Ortega’s lawyers prepared for an insanity defense.

Marina Krim testified that she had returned to her Upper West Side apartment in a panic at about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25. She had just picked up her middle child, Nessie, then 3, from swimming class and had arranged to meet Ortega at Lucia’s ballet class. But when she got to the dance class she learned Lucia had never arrived.

Inside of their second-floor apartment, Krim, with Nessie, found her two other children dead from stab wounds in the tub and Ortega plunging a knife into her own neck. Ortega had used a butcher knife from the kitchen to stab Leo five times and Lucia about 30 times. Ortega did not deny killing the children.

Stuart Silberg, the lead prosecutor, had urged the judge to sentence her to life without parole.

“This defendant has to this day shown no remorse. She has never shed a tear for the children,” he said. “Why hasn’t she shed a tear now? Still, as she sits here now, not a tear.”

“Make sure the defendant never has hope of being free,” Silberg said.

Prosecutors had argued that Ortega was angry about her workload and schedule and killed the children to spite their mother. Prosecutors also said Ortega resented Krim for being able to provide her children with what she could not give her own son, whom she had left at the age of 4 to be raised by her sister in the Dominican Republic. He joined her in New York City in 2012.

The defense countered that Ortega suffered from a chronic mental illness and was experiencing a psychotic and dissociative episode when she killed the children. Two psychiatrists for the defense said Ortega had heard voices, including Satan’s, commanding her to kill herself and the children. They testified that Ortega, a religious woman, had suffered from bouts of deep depression, and delusions and hallucinations since she was 16 in the Dominican Republic, but her illness had not been treated or diagnosed until after her arrest on murder charges. Jurors heard from more than 50 witnesses.

In the weeks before the slayings, several family members and friends testified that Ortega’s behavior had become bizarre. They said she had complained of seeing shadows that followed her, cried frequently and talked about a “black man” who was trying to split up her family.

“You will know a diseased mind when you see it,” Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, Ortega’s lawyer, told jurors at the start of the trial.

The case hinged on evidence presented about Ortega’s mental health history and her state of mind at the time of the slayings, much of which countered her argument that she was in the grip of severe psychosis.

“She did it intentionally with a full understanding of exactly what it was she was doing — every stab, every slash,” Silberg, the prosecutor, said during closing arguments last month.