A New York City woman who worked as a nanny for a Manhattan couple pleaded not guilty today from her hospital bed to charges that she murdered two of their children.
Yoselyn Ortega, 50, was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the Oct. 25 deaths of Lucia and Leo Krim, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said today in a statement.
Ortega made the plea during a bedside arraignment at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, according to a pool report provided by the Associated Press. Ortega has been held at the hospital since the killings while recovering from what police say are self-inflicted wounds.
“Yoselyn Ortega is charged with taking the lives of two innocent children who were incapable of defending themselves,” Vance said in a statement. “This crime shocked and horrified parents around the city, many of whom entrust their children to the care of others both by necessity and by choice.”
Ortega faces life in prison if she is convicted of killing the Krim children, who were found in the bathroom of their family’s apartment on West 75th Street, according to the New York City Police Department.
Ortega, wearing a neck brace, was under a white blanket, handcuffed to her hospital bed and wearing a blue hairnet, according to the pool report. She appeared frail yet alert and didn’t speak during the 10-minute proceeding. Her right hand trembled, and while she appeared to have a tracheotomy tube, she was breathing on her own. A translator was present and spoke to her in Spanish.
Ortega’s attorney, Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, entered the plea on her behalf, and later told Justice Lewis Bart Stone that her client is “profoundly medically impaired” and in need of medical attention. Stone ordered her held without bail while she undergoes a psychiatric exam. Her next court date is scheduled for Jan. 16.
Leer-Greenberg declined to comment outside the hospital, according to the pool report.
A naturalized U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic, Ortega had been in the U.S. for 10 years and worked for the Krims for two years, according to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. She lived in Upper Manhattan with her son, her sister and her sister’s daughter.
On the day of the killings, the children’s mother, Marina Krim, had gone to a neighborhood Jewish Community Center for swimming lessons with her 3-year-old daughter, police said. She was supposed to meet the nanny and the two other children at a dance studio later in the evening, according to Kelly.
When the nanny didn’t appear, the mother went to the apartment and found her son, Leo, 2, and daughter, Lucia, 6, in the bathroom with stab wounds to their bodies, said Browne. When the mother entered the bathroom, the nanny started to stab herself, Browne said. Police said they found Ortega on the bathroom floor with a knife next to her.
The two children were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. The nanny was taken to New York Presbyterian, where she had been intubated and unable to speak until Nov. 3, when she agreed to discuss the matter with detectives and was subsequently charged with murder, police said.
The children’s father, Kevin Krim, served as global head of Web properties for Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, until last year. He joined CNBC as general manager for digital in March.
The case is New York v. Ortega, 05112/2012, New York state Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).