Man pleads guilty to throwing boy over Mall of America balcony

Emmanuel Aranda pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
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Emmanuel Aranda

The man accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy over a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America has pleaded guilty.

Emmanuel DeShawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated attempted murder at a hearing on Tuesday.

As part of his plea, Aranda accepted that throwing the child over the third-floor balcony – a drop of approximately 40 feet – could kill him.

He has agreed to serve 19 years in prison, with prosecutors dropping its attempt for an aggravated sentence in return.

The boy, known only as Landen, suffered serious injuries in the incident on Apr. 12, and was taken to the ICU at Children's Hospital Minneapolis.

A GoFundMe campaign for his family has so far raised more than $1 million.

The latest update from the family came on Monday, when they said they would not be commenting on the court hearing as the child continues to heal.

KARE 11's Lou Raguse notes that the plea from Aranda came as a surprise during what was only expected to be a procedural hearing.

Aranda had previously told police he had gone to the MOA that day with the specific intention of killing someone, though had planned to throw an adult as they usually stand closer to the balcony.

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The boy's mother told police she had been outside the Rainforest Cafe with her son, a friend and her friend's child when Aranda approached, and "came very close to them."

The mother asked if they were in the way and should move when "without warning," Aranda picked the boy up and threw him from the balcony.

Speaking to police, Aranda said that he had been coming to the mall for several years in an effort to talk to women, "but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive."

He had gone to the mall the previous day, Thursday, Apr. 11, to kill someone, but said it "didn't work out."

Aranda will be officially sentenced on June 3.

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