Credit: (Lulu & Leo Fund via AP)
Credit: (Lulu & Leo Fund via AP)
Ortega’s defense team does not deny that she killed the children, but is arguing that a lifetime of untreated mental illness in her native Dominican Republic drove her to the crime. Prosecutors, however, argue that the woman, who had worked for the Krims for about two years, knew what she was doing when she killed the victims.
Marina Krim had taken her younger daughter, Nessie, to a swimming lesson on Oct. 25, 2012, and the pair then went to Lulu’s dance studio to pick her up after class. She became frantic when Lulu was not there, and hurried home.
Krim described the discovery of the bodies as "like a horror movie," according to an Associated Press report published in Time. With 3-year-old Nessie in tow, she went room to room in the apartment, finding them all empty, until she reached a bathroom.
"I go down, I walk down the hall and I see the light on under the back of the door, and I'm like, 'Oh God, it's so quiet in here, oh God. Why is it so … quiet?' And I open the door … and I open the door, oh God," Krim said, weeping, the AP reported.
Inside the bathroom, she found Lulu and Leo in the bathtub, both covered with blood. Krim testified that she knew immediately that Lulu was dead because her eyes were open and fixed.
As Krim stood looking at her dead children, Ortega stabbed herself in the neck, ABC News reported.
Assistant District Attorney Courtney Groves told jurors during opening statements that Ortega waited until Krim found the bodies to stab herself. She also argued that Ortega waited until she knew Krim was not home to kill the children with knives from the family’s own kitchen.
Leo, who could not defend himself, suffered five stab wounds, Groves said, according to ABC News. Lulu did fight back, sustaining defensive wounds among the approximately 30 stab wounds inflicted to her body.
Both children’s throats were slashed, Groves said. The prosecutor said the wounds were so deep that first responders initially thought the children had been decapitated.
ABC News reported that Krim ran to a security guard and a doorman, who called 911 to report the homicides. Krim testified that she screamed, “I just saw my kids dead,” and banged her head against a marble pillar “to wake up from this nightmare.”
"I was destroyed," she testified.
Credit: (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Credit: (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Jurors on Friday also heard testimony from the doorman and security guard, as well as the 911 call the doorman placed to summon help, WABC reported. Krim's screams could be heard in the background of the call.
Krim's husband, Kevin Krim, flew back that day from a business trip in California, ABC News reported. NYPD homicide detectives met him at the airport.
Groves said during her opening that there is no clear motive for the slayings, but she suggested that Ortega resented Marina Krim for being able to provide for her children in a way Ortega could not. Ortega left her own young son behind in the Dominican Republic to be raised by his aunt when she came to the United States.
The son arrived in the U.S. to finish high school just months before the double homicide. Groves argued that with his arrival came a heightened level of stress and anxiety for his mother, who struggled to pay his private school tuition.
Ortega's defense attorney, Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, said during her own opening statements that Ortega has a "corroborated history of hearing voices and disassociating from reality since the age of 16," the news agency reported. She argued that evidence will show what her client's mind was like when she killed the Krim children.
"You will know a diseased mind when you see it," Van Leer-Greenberg said.
Groves told jurors that the only contact Ortega had with a mental health professional in 30 years was with a psychologist she saw days before the killings, ABC News reported. In that session, she talked about feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as feelings of failure in her relationship with her son, the prosecutor said.
Krim testified that, in the past, she and her husband had bought Ortega plane tickets to visit her family in the Dominican Republic and even made the trip themselves to meet Ortega’s family, the AP reported. She said that she never saw any signs of mental distress in the nanny.
Groves said Ortega told police investigators immediately after the killings that she hurt the children because she had money problems and was angry at the Krims, the AP reported. She complained about a shifting schedule and having to work as a cleaning woman when she did not want to.
ABC News reported that some of those extra cleaning jobs were efforts by Krim to help Ortega make more money to better support her son.
Krim and her husband, who started the Lulu & Leo Fund following their children's slayings, have since had two more sons, Felix in 2013 and Linus in 2016.
The Lulu & Leo Fund provides funds for Choose Creativity, which the fund's Facebook page describes as a curriculum-based initiative that centers on 10 principles of creativity. Working with schools and community organizations, the program brings the initiative to children and families in underserved communities.
As of November, the curriculum was being taught in more than 20 schools and community centers, impacting more than 2,000 students, the page states.
In a video the Krims posted on the fund's Facebook page last month, updating the charity's followers on the impending start of the criminal trial, they urged people to use the trial as a springboard to spread positivity.
"Over the next few months, the story of Lulu and Leo and our whole family will be painfully in the news again," Kevin Krim said in the video. "This trial will be very hard for us, and for a lot of you. We feel like this community, all of you, have been with us along through this whole experience."
Kevin Krim said that even people who never met Lulu and Leo love them and feel inspired by them.
As Nessie, now 8, played on a couch behind the couple and Felix and Linus on a rug in the corner of the room, Marina Krim said people had been asking her how they could help the family during such a difficult time.
"We thought about it, and we realized that we're going to handle this the way we handled everything," Marina Krim said. "We're going to focus on the positive, and the goodness that's come out of all of this. When you hear about us on the news, or we come up in conversation, we want you to tell people about the Lulu and Leo Fund, and the Choose Creativity initiative and the 10 principles of creativity."
“This is the legacy of Lulu and Leo. And this is what matters,” Marina Krim said. “So, this is how you can help us.”