NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York nanny accused of the stabbing deaths of two young children pleaded not guilty to murder charges Wednesday in a judicial proceeding conducted in the hospital where the 50-year-old woman is handcuffed to her bed as she recovers from self-inflicted wounds.
Yoselyn Ortega was indicted two weeks ago on two counts each of first- and second-degree murder in the killings of Lucia Krim, 6, and her brother, Leo, who was days shy of his second birthday, in their parents’ luxury apartment.
Ortega was under a white blanket, handcuffed to her hospital bed and wearing a blue hair net, according to a pool report of the proceeding at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She appeared alert but did not speak during the 10-minute proceeding.
Ortega’s attorney, Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, entered the plea on her behalf, the pool report said. Judge Lewis Bart Stone ordered Ortega held without bail while she undergoes a psychiatric exam. The next court date was set for January 16.
Ortega has been in the hospital since October 25, recovering from what police have described as stab wounds she inflicted on herself at the scene of the murders.
The children’s mother, Marina Krim, discovered their bodies in the bathtub when she returned to their Upper West Side home from a swimming lesson with a third child, police have said. Ortega then began to stab herself in front of Krim.
“Yoselyn Ortega is charged with taking the lives of two innocent children who were incapable of defending themselves,” New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement. “This crime shocked and horrified parents around the city, many of whom entrust their children to the care of others both by necessity and by choice.”
Ortega was formally arrested earlier this month after police interviewed her for the first time in her hospital room.
Ortega had been employed by the Krim family for two years, police said. She lived with her son and sister near the Krims’ apartment off Central Park and has been a naturalized U.S. citizen for a decade.
Marina Krim had expected to meet Ortega and the two children at a dance studio on the day of the killings. Upon finding the lights out in the apartment, Marina Krim asked the doorman if Ortega had taken the kids out, police said.
Krim then re-entered the home and found the children in the bathroom before encountering Ortega.
From pool and staff reports; Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Bill Trott