A New York woman who worked as a nanny for a Manhattan couple was deemed fit to face trial on charges she stabbed two of their children to death in their Upper West Side home last year.
Two psychiatrists who interviewed the suspect, Yoselyn Ortega, 50, and reviewed her “voluminous” medical record found her mentally able to defend herself in the case, Justice Gregory Carro said today in New York state court in Manhattan.
“Both have found she can participate in a meaningful way to assist in her defense,” Carro said at a hearing that lasted less than five minutes and was attended mostly by photographers and reporters.
Ortega’s lawyer, Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, said she will contest the finding at a hearing scheduled for May 6.
Ortega pleaded not guilty on Nov. 28 to charges she murdered 2-year-old Leo Krim and his 6-year-old sister Lucia on Oct. 25. She entered the plea from a hospital bed, where she was recovering from what police called self-inflicted stab wounds sustained on the day of the murders.
Accompanied by an interpreter, Ortega appeared today in a gray prison jumpsuit with her hands cuffed behind her back and her hair arranged tightly in three braids.
Ortega, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in November.
She 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 had been in the U.S. for 10 years and worked for the Krims for two years at the time of the murders, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. She lived in Upper Manhattan with her son, her sister and her sister’s daughter.
Her not-guilty plea in November was made while she was handcuffed to her hospital bed. She didn’t speak at the time and her lawyer entered the plea on her behalf.
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 show up, the mother went to the apartment and found the children in the bathroom with stab wounds, said Paul Browne, a police department spokesman. When the mother entered the bathroom, the nanny started to stab herself. 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 was 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 2011. He joined CNBC as general manager for digital in March last year.
The case is New York v. Ortega, 05112/2012, New York state Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).