It was a mother's worst nightmare. After taking her 3-year-old daughter, Nessie, to swim class, Marina Krim returned home to the NYC apartment she shared with husband Kevin on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and found their other two beautiful children, Lulu, 6, and Leo, 2, lying in a blood-spattered bathtub — stabbed to death. According to police, the family’s beloved nanny of two years, Yoselyn Ortega, who was on the floor beside their bodies, then grabbed a knife and stabbed herself in the throat in a botched suicide attempt. In shock, Marina made her way downstairs, where neighbors saw her flailing her arms, clutching her only living child and howling with grief. “She was crying and screaming,” neighbor Gloria Klein tells In Touch.
Now more than five years after the brutal October 2012 slayings, prosecutors are seeking justice for Lulu and Leo. On Feb. 5, jury selection began in an NYC courtroom where Ortega, 55, is facing two counts each of first-degree and second-degree murder that could send her to prison for the rest of her life. The trial that will delve into the brutal slayings — a case that shocked even the most world-weary New Yorkers and drew global attention — is expected to last four months, Judge Gregory Carro told a pool of about 160 prospective jurors. “The people believe the only appropriate sentence is life without parole,” prosecutor Stuart Silberg has told the judge, explaining that a life sentence — New York doesn’t have the death penalty — is also what the Krims want.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Most of the case’s facts are not in dispute. “She admitted that she had killed the kids and that she had used at least two knives,” former prosecutor Gregory B. LeDonne testified of Ortega during a 2017 pretrial hearing. “She indicated she was mad at [Marina].” Ortega also told investigators, court papers reveal, that she hurt the kids because she was dealing with financial problems and was mad that their parents wanted her to clean as well as babysit. “Oh my God, I’m sorry,” Ortega allegedly told cops. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done. Relieve me of my misery.” After years of psychiatric examinations and back-and-forth about her mental state, the court ultimately ruled that Ortega is fit to stand trial. Judge Carro even offered her a deal — a sentence of 15 years to life for each murder, to be served consecutively, in exchange for guilty pleas — but she refused.
The former nanny’s lawyers plan to put up a fight. Her legal team is expected to raise doubts about her mental stability and ability to consent to police interviews in the days and weeks following her suicide attempt. A psychiatrist who assessed Ortega testified in 2017 that the Dominican Republic native was disoriented and delirious, and a psychologist also previously testified that Ortega had claimed she’d had contact with the devil and heard voices talking about killing. “She snapped,” says her sister, Celia Ortega. “We don’t understand what happened to her mind.”
In the years since Lulu’s and Leo’s deaths, their parents have struggled to move on. “When you wake up the first morning to a new and terrible world, what do you do? I didn’t feel like I’d ever want to do anything ever again,” Kevin, 43, a digital media executive, wrote in an emotional 2017 essay explaining how the family turned to trauma psychiatrists as they began to pick up the pieces. Marina, 41, a marketing executive-turned-homemaker, has admitted to suffering from “terrifying flashbacks" amid “overwhelming grief that always ended in the questions, ‘How did this happen? Why did this happen?’”
But both have done their best to turn their living nightmare into what Kevin calls “an act of positive defiance.” They founded the nonprofit Lulu and Leo Fund, a charity that supports art education and creative confidence programs for children and families, and ChooseCreativity.org, which helps kids develop creative skills to build resilience. They also welcomed two more children, Felix, 4, and Linus, 2. “With each new baby, we feel a special and closer connection to Lulu and Leo, who are a constant presence in their siblings’ looks, gestures and voices,” the couple wrote on Facebook.