A 24-year-old man who threw a 5-year-old boy off a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America in Minneapolis last month has pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder.
Emmanuel Aranda agreed to the deal as part of a plea agreement, Fox News reported. Prosecutors dropped an “aggravated circumstances” aspect to the charge, which could have meant an additional year in prison.
When he is sentenced on June 3, he is expected to face 19 years in prison, CBS reported.
“I think it’s a good result, and the family will then have a resolution to the case fairly quickly and they can focus where they are focused, which is the healing of their child,” Senior Assistant County Attorney Cheri Townsend said told CBS.
She said the family of the victim supported the deal.
The child was thrown about 40 feet and suffered head trauma and multiple broken bones.
The boy’s family in April released a statement in which they said “prayers are working,” as the child recovered. They issued a statement this week saying they would not comment on court proceedings against Aranda.
“As hearings begin this week, the family would like to inform media that they will not be providing commentary on any court proceedings. The child continues to heal and the family asks for continued prayers and privacy,” the statement said.
A GoFundMe page for the child has raised $1,023,000 as of Wednesday from almost 29,000 people. The page gives the child’s name as Landen.
“(H)e is the sweetest kindest 5 year old you will ever meet. His soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets. He is full of energy and life and enjoys soccer, playing with friends and family and playing hockey with his brother and sister,” the page said.
“He was enjoying a day at the Mall of America with his mom and friend on Friday morning when a stranger maliciously grabbed him and threw him over the 3rd floor balcony for no apparent reason. The family doesn’t know him and are completely clueless as to why this monster would target their family with this heinous act of violence,” the page stated.
“Landen has a very long road to recovery ahead of him. He suffered life threatening injuries, many people who fall from that distance aren’t as lucky to make it. He has many surgeries ahead in his life to try to get back to a normal life for a young, vibrant boy,” the page said.
Aranda reportedly said he was angry over past rejections by women at the mall and this “caused him to lash out and be aggressive.”
The complaint against Aranda said he admitted that he “had formed a plan to kill someone at the mall” the day before. Aranda said he “planned to kill an adult, because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the victim instead,” the complaint said.
Aranda’s mother, Becky Aranda, said her son did not belong in prison.
“We don’t really know what’s going on with him. He needs mental health, that’s what he needs,” she said. “He [doesn’t] need to be in jail, he’s really sick.”
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