Nanny murder trial: Guilty verdict for caregiver who killed two children with kitchen knife

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Kevin Krim, a man battered by incredible grief for the last five years, walked into a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, slipping into a seat in gallery’s front row. The jury was set to announce a verdict in the murder trial of Yoselyn Ortega, the nanny accused of murdering Krim’s two young children, Lucia, 6, and Leo, 2.

The 42-year-old father sat next to two alternate jurors, Chloe Beck and Brittany Yee, CNN reported. The pair had been dismissed before the deliberations. But the women returned to watch the resolution. Seeing Krim, the jurors embraced the man whose emotional testimony they had heard weeks earlier. All three began to cry – a sign of the emotional strain that has bound together nearly everyone involved after two months of evidence and painful testimony.

Krim gripped juror Beck’s hand as the verdict was read: “Guilty.”

Ortega, who had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder for stabbing the children in their Upper West Side apartment in October 2012.

“This was a very difficult decision for all of us. While the basic facts were very clear from the beginning, we also wanted to be sure that we were giving everybody a fair opportunity,” juror David Curtis said in a news conference following the verdict, fighting back his own tears, CNN reported. “It was not a decision we reached lightly or easily. There were some raised voices and a lot of tears. But I think we all feel good that we addressed all of the issues and fairly weighed everything that was presented to us.”

The verdict closes the curtain on a horrific murder case that has transfixed media in New York and beyond since Marina Krim caught Ortega in the process of murdering the children. The mother of the dead children has not returned to the courtroom since giving her own testimony in early March, but she posted an Instagram message to her dead son and daughter from the top of the Empire State Building.

“You two never made it to the top, but I’m up here now for the first time, in peace, on top of the world, remembering another lifetime and thinking of you,” the message stated, according to the New York Times.

Ortega was originally recommended to the Krims by her sister, who worked as a nanny for a child who attended the same preschool as Lucia, New York Magazine reported.

According to the prosecution, Ortega – who was born in the Dominican Republic but was a naturalized U.S. citizen – had a rocky relationship with her employers due to her own resentment. The nanny was in financial trouble after moving her own son to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic and enrolling him in a private school. The Krims offered Ortega more hours to increase her pay, but the nanny’s own ill-will and jealousy toward her employers only deepened.

“Did you see anything during the time of the defendant’s employment that made you think she was mentally ill?” a prosecutor would later ask Kevin Krim at the trial, according to New York Magazine.

“Absolutely not,” the father replied. “Never. And I know what I know.”

On Oct. 25, 2012, Marina Krim came home to her apartment with the couple’s third child to find the lights out. Mother and daughter went room to room looking for Lucia and Leo, Marina later testified. When she stepped into the bathroom, she found a horrific scene: the two children were dead in the bathtub and Ortega was slashing her own neck with a kitchen knife.

“My babysitter killed my kids!” she screamed as she fled the house, according to testimony.

Kevin Krim was flying over the country in an airplane when his children were being killed. As he testified in court, his plane was taxiing in New York when he turned on his phone to find messages and voice mails clogging up his inbox. Sensing that something was seriously wrong with his children, he hit play on a voice mail from his wife. “I just heard this background noise of screaming,” he testified. Two NYPD officers came on board to escort him to the hospital.

At trial, Ortega’s attorney’s attempted to explain the murder as the product of severe mental illness. “The reason for the defendant’s actions lay within her delusional mind,” defense attorney Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg argued to the jury, according to the New York Daily News.

The prosecution, however, countered that although the defendant may have been suffering from depression and anxiety, she had previously never displayed any form of psychosis or mental derangement. Rather, the crime was about spite, the state maintained.

“Every stab, every slash – each one had a purpose and that purpose was to end the lives of those children,” a prosecutor told the jury.

The trial was an emotional ordeal for everyone involved.

As she left the witness stand in March, Marina Krim broke down, screaming at her former employee.

“You’re evil!” she cried, according to New York Magazine. “You’re evil and you like this. You love this. You’re getting pleasure from this.”

Alternative juror Chloe Beck later told the Daily News she would excuse herself from the courtroom to weep in the bathroom after particularly horrific testimony. “I don’t think I’ll ever be the same,” she told the paper.

As the jury deliberated Ortega’s fate, shouting could be heard from outside the room, CNN reported.

Many of the eyes in the juror box were wet as the foreman announced the guilty verdict, according to the Times.

Ortega, however, showed no emotion as she listened to the jury’s decision.

The Krims have since moved out of the apartment where the murders occurred. Along with their surviving daughter, the family has grown with the birth of two sons following the murder. The Krims have also been active in pushing for legislation that would make it a crime to lie on a job application or references involving child care.