MINNEAPOLIS In an unexpected move the man accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy over a balcony at Mall of America pleaded guilty to attempted murder Tuesday, in exchange for a sentence of 19 years.
Emmanuel Aranda, age 24, appeared in Hennepin County Court on what was supposed to be an omnibus hearing but instead entered a guilty plea to a charge of first degree attempted murder.
KARE 11's Lou Raguse is in court and will have details as this story develops.
The little boy, known only as Landen, suffered severe head injuries and broken bones in the three-story fall. While his condition was initially critical, the 5-year-old's family has issued a series of updates on what they have called his miraculous recovery.
On Monday a family spokesman issued a new update on the boy's GoFundMe account.
Hello everyone! Thank you for the continued support and prayers that continue to come in! Your efforts continue to help make a difference. Landen's family has released a statement this afternoon and I wanted to share it with you all:
"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. In addition, the family has retained the communications firm Tunheim in order to help respond to media requests."
Landen's mother told police officers that she and her son were standing in front of the Rain Forest Cafe April 12 with a friend and her child when a man they didn't know, later identified as Aranda, approached them and came very close. She asked him if they were in the way and should move, and without warning, the defendant picked up her son and threw him over the railing.
When questioned by Bloomington investigators, police say Aranda told them he had formed a plan to kill someone at the mall the previous day, but that it "did not work out," so he returned to the mall on Friday. He said that he had planned to kill an adult as they usually stand near the railing, but chose the young victim instead. During the interview detectives say Aranda acknowledged repeatedly that he had planned and intended to kill someone at the mall that day and that he was aware that what he was doing was wrong. A review of video surveillance at the mall showed Aranda walking in the mall on the third floor and looking over the balcony several times before approaching the victim.
Aranda allegedly went on to say that he had been coming to the Mall of America for several years and had attempted to talk to women but was repeatedly rejected. That rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive.