N.Y. prosecutor fights nanny's insanity defense in murder of two children

By Alice Popovici

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York nanny who stabbed to death two children in her care acted on "a thought-out plan" to murder them due to resentment of their mother, undercutting her insanity defense, a prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments on Monday.

Lawyers for Yoselyn Ortega, 55, said she hallucinated that a devil told her "to kill the children and herself" and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Ortega was suffering from "command hallucinations" in 2012 when she repeatedly plunged a kitchen knife into Lucia Krim, 6, nicknamed Lulu, and her brother Leo, 2, at their New York luxury apartment, her attorney, Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, said in her closing argument at state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Stuart Silberg argued that mental illness did not excuse Ortega's actions and defense attorneys needed to prove that she could not understand the consequences of her actions. Her planning showed she knew the consequences, he said.

Defensive wounds on Lulu's body meant she was "twisting and turning to get away from the knife blade," and Ortega decided to cut Leo's throat from behind to avoid a similar struggle, Silberg said.

"The body doesn't lie," said Silberg, calling the wounds evidence of "a thought-out plan of how to achieve a goal."

Ortega stabbed the children to spite their mother, Marina Krim, because she was angry over being asked to work too hard, he said. He urged the jury to find Ortega guilty of two counts each of first- and second-degree murder, punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The defense argued Ortega was mentally incapable of having an intent to kill and was too psychotic to understand her actions.

If she is found not guilty by reason of insanity, Ortega could spend the rest of her life in a psychiatric facility.

On Oct. 25, 2012, Krim returned to the family's apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side and found her children's bloody bodies in the bathtub with Ortega standing over them, plunging a knife into her own neck.

Krim said she returned home with the children's then 3-year-old sister, Nessie, after Ortega failed to appear with the other children at Lulu's dance lesson.

Ortega had brought her then 17-year-old son, Jesus Frias, from the Dominican Republic and enrolled him in a private school, prosecutors said. She was overwhelmed by financial concerns and tuition costs.

(Writing by Barbara Goldberg in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis and Cynthia Osterman)

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