Man who threw child from MOA’s 3rd floor gets 19 years; family forgives

Published 5:02 pm Monday, June 3, 2019

By Alisa Roth, Tim Nelson

MPR News/90.1

The stranger who threw a 5-year-old boy over a third-floor railing at the Mall of America, badly injuring him, was sentenced Monday to 19 years for the crime.

Emmanuel Aranda, 24

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Emmanuel Aranda, 24, had already pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the April 12 attack on the boy. Aranda had told authorities he went to the mall that day looking for someone to kill and randomly chose his victim.

The boy, named Landen, plunged 40 feet before hitting the first floor and sustaining massive injuries. He survived. Two weeks after the attack, he was conscious and no longer in critical condition, the family’s lawyer said then.

The boy’s family has since said he needed additional medical procedures and faces a long recovery road.

His family did not appear at the hearing Monday, but the parents’ victim impact statements were read in court. Both spoke of the family’s deep religious faith and that they were compelled by those convictions to forgive Aranda.

“You intended evil that day, but God works for all good,” read the statement from Landen’s father (the family declined to have their last name used). “You chose evil over good and chose to take your evil and hate out on our precious boy … You will take nothing more from us. I do forgive you because it is what God calls me to do.”

Landen’s mother also said she forgave Aranda and expressed pity “something really bad must have happened to you” in life. “God will judge you someday, and I will have peace with that,” she added. “God, it is in your hands.”

Aranda told police he knew what he was planning to do was wrong, that he’d been coming to the mall for years, tried to speak to women there and they rejected him, which made him lash out.

He declined to make a statement Monday in court.

Hennepin County Judge Jeannice M. Reding said the 19-year sentence required at least two-thirds, or more than 12 years, be spent in prison.