Man Who Tossed Boy From Mall of America Balcony Pleads Guilty

May 14, 2019 Updated: May 14, 2019

The suspect accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy from a Mall of America balcony has pleaded guilty on May 14 to attempted premeditated first-degree murder.

The 5-year-old, identified as Landen Hoffman, was seriously injured in the incident. Emmanuel Aranda admitted guilt in the attack and faces 19 years in prison, KFGO reported.

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to pursue aggravated circumstances against the 24-year-old Minneapolis native. That meant he could face another year in prison, according to the report.

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Dec. 23, 2015. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Earlier, officials said that Aranda told them that he went to the mall and was “looking for someone to kill” when he threw the child, who was with his mother and others.

In his courtroom appearance, Aranda only gave “yes” and “no” answers when he was questioned.

According to KTSP, Aranda said that he was aware that throwing the boy, who he didn’t know, over the balcony could kill him.

Landen’s mother said Aranda came very close to them and “without warning” he “picked up the victim and threw him off the third-floor balcony,” the complaint said, reported the Star-Tribune.

Two weeks ago, Landen’s family issued a statement, saying that he is alert and conscious and no longer in critical condition, the newspaper reported. Their focus was on “additional surgeries, healing, rehabilitation, and eventually a return home, which we hope will happen by June,” they said.

In a statement on May 13, the family stated that Landen “continues to heal” and they asked for “continued prayers and privacy.”

Aranda, 24, will be sentenced June 3. His plea deal calls for prosecutors to drop an aggravated-circumstances component to the charge that could have meant an additional year in prison. Prosecutor Cheri Ann Townsend said the boy’s family supports the plea deal, The Associated Press reported.

Police arrested Aranda moments after the attack as he waited to board a light-rail train at the mall, and said he quickly admitted to the attack.

He had two past convictions for assaults at the mall, both in 2015, and had been banned from the property at one point. Court records showed that Aranda had been ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment after those assaults, and his attorney Paul Sellers said Aranda had been in mental health court.

A sign at the Mall of America, the largest mall in the United States, is seen in a 2006 file photo. (Tim Gans/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Aranda’s mother, Becky Aranda, went to the May 14 hearing, saying her son has had mental health problems since he was a child, the Star-Tribune reported.

“He doesn’t need to be in jail,” she said. “He’s really sick.”

Becky Aranda said her family was “really shocked” by the attack, and “we had no idea that his illness would drive him to doing this.”

The mother said she is keeping Landen “in our prayers. Our heart goes out to them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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