NEW YORK – A nanny who was convicted of brutally murdering two small children in her care while their parents were out was sentenced on Monday to life in prison without parole during a dramatic courtroom encounter.
Yoselyn Ortega wept as she spoke briefly — a rare show of emotion in a lengthy trial at which she was convicted of the gruesome October 2012 stabbing deaths of 6-year-old Lucia Krim, known as Lulu, and 2-year-old Leo Krim.
"I'm very sorry for everything that happened, but I hope that no one goes through what I have gone through," said the 55-year-old Ortega. "Although many people wish me all the worst, my life is in the hands of God."
The children's parents, speaking to the judge before sentencing, demanded the maximum sentence.
"The defendant may think she destroyed Lulu and Leo, but she is a failure in this, too. Lulu and Leo are powerful forces," the mother, Marina Krim, said through tears. "They are two stars now who will always lead us forward."
She and her husband, Kevin Krim, spoke of how Ortega robbed them of their children and how Ortega's family and friends helped with this by lying to them about Ortega's personality and experience as a nanny. Ortega, who's from the Dominican Republic, had been recommended by her sister, a nanny for another New York family, and her background and references were faked by her family. The consequences, the Krims said, were horrifying.
"We miss hearing them call out my name and run to hug me when I got home from work," the father said while crying. "We miss feeling their soft skin in our arms."
He eviscerated Ortega for not pleading guilty and forcing the case into a courtroom. He said she never should have put the family, the jurors or the audience through it.
"The defendant is an evil and utterly dangerous narcissist," he said. "It is right that she should live and rot and die in a metal case, like the ugly and dark shadow of Lulu and Leo's bright and shiny lights."
The couple left the courtroom and didn't return before Ortega asked for mercy, having never appeared to make eye contact with her.
"I ask for a great deal of forgiveness," Ortega said through a Spanish-English interpreter. "To God, to Marina, to Kevin. I wish my family had told them that I did not feel well."
But Judge Gregory Carro referred to Ortega as "pure evil" and said she should spend the rest of her life in prison.
During the seven-week trial, jurors grappled with whether Ortega had been too mentally ill to understand what she was doing when she killed the children. The emotional testimony often kept the panel and the audience in tears. Jurors heard heart-wrenching testimony from Marina Krim, who spoke of coming home to her eerily quiet apartment and finding her children covered in blood in the back bathroom.
Krim had been at a swimming class with her 3-year-old daughter, Nessie Krim. Ortega was to have dropped off Lucia at her dance class, and Krim was to pick her up. But when Krim arrived, Lulu wasn't there. Krim frantically tried to reach Ortega, who had worked for the family for about two years.
Krim opened the door to the bathroom to discover the children's bodies stacked in the tub. Lulu was stabbed more than 30 times, and Leo was stabbed five times. Ortega had cut her own throat in a failed suicide attempt.
At the sentencing, Marina Krim talked about what that crime scene may have done to Nessie, even though she has grown into a strong, happy child.
"As Nessie grows up, she will be asking Kevin and me deep, unanswerable questions about life that most parents avoid talking about with their kids," Marina Krim said. "But we will try to answer her questions with sensitivity the best we can."
Prosecutors argued that Ortega was jealous of Marina Krim's life and lashed out in the worst way possible — at her children.
This story has been corrected to show the nanny was sentenced to life in prison without parole, not 50 years to life.