NEW YORK (Reuters) – The murder trial of a New York nanny accused of stabbing to death two children in her care wraps up with closing arguments on Monday after a nearly two-month battle over her insanity defense.
Mental health experts testifying on either side of the case have drawn two starkly different portrayals of Yoselyn Ortega, 55, who is on trial for the 2012 killing of Lucia Krim, 6, nicknamed Lulu, and her brother Leo, 2, at their New York luxury apartment.
Witnesses called by defense lawyer Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg told the jury at state Supreme Court in Manhattan that Ortega was mentally incapable of having an intent to kill and was too psychotic to understand her actions. The defense maintains that Ortega has long suffered from depression, psychotic thinking and hallucinations.
If she is found not guilty by reason of insanity, Ortega could spend the rest of her life in a psychiatric facility.
Assistant Manhattan District Attorneys Courtney Groves and Stuart Silberg argue Ortega stabbed the children because she was resentful of their mother, Marina Krim, and angry at being asked to work too hard. The prosecution contends Ortega should be found guilty of two counts each of first- and second-degree murder, punishable by a maximum sentence of life behind bars.
On Oct. 25, 2012, Krim returned to the family’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and found her children’s bloody bodies in the bathtub and Ortega standing over them, plunging a knife into her own neck.
Krim said she returned home with the children’s then 3-year-old sister, Nessie, after Ortega failed to appear with the other children at Lulu’s dance lesson.
Ortega had recently brought her then 17-year-old son, Jesus Frias, 17, from the Dominican Republic and enrolled him in a private school so he did not have to repeat 11th grade, prosecutors said. She was overwhelmed by financial concerns and the cost of tuition.
Writing by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Matthew Lewis