Man Who Threw 5-Year-Old Off Mall of America Balcony Pleads Guilty, as Boy ‘Continues to Heal’
The Minnesota man accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy from a third-floor balcony at Mall of America has pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder, PEOPLE confirms.
In a Tuesday morning hearing, Emmanuel Aranda admitted he knew that throwing the boy off the balcony could kill him, KSTP reports. He will serve a 19 years in prison.
Aranda, 24, did not give a reason for his actions, but his mother told the prosecutors that he had mental health problems.
“I think it’s a good result,” Senior Assistant County Attorney Cheri Townsend told KSTP. “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.”
The family has provided updates on a GoFundMe page for Landen. On Tuesday, they wrote that the boy is improving. They previously said they hope to have him home by June.
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“As hearings begin this week, the family would like to inform media that they will not be providing commentary on any court proceedings,” the family wrote. “[Landen] continues to heal and the family asks for continued prayers and privacy.”
Landen sustained severe head trauma and multiple broken bones in his arms and legs after being thrown from the third floor of the mall.
Investigators said Aranda went to the Mall of America intentionally “looking for someone to kill” and felt driven to aggression after being rejected by women he’d tried to speak with there, according to a criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
Aranda told police he had first considered choosing to kill an adult at the mall the day before the incident “because they usually stand near the balcony,” but that did not “work out,” the criminal complaint states.
About 10:15 a.m. the next day, Aranda was back at the mall, where he approached the victim and the victim’s mother as they stood outside the Rainforest Café on the third floor with another parent and child.
In April, Mac Hammond, a pastor from the boy’s family’s church, said the boy had endured a five-hour MRI, which showed his injuries were not as bad as originally thought. “There wasn’t even swelling in the brain,” he said.”
Aranda will be formally sentenced on June 3. His public defender told KSTP that he accepted “full responsibility” for his actions.