Guilty plea for tossing child from mall's third floor


Emmanuel Aranda pleaded guilty to the only charge against him for throwing a five-year-old boy over the third-floor railing at the Mall of America, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

Aranda, 24, entered his guilty plea to attempted first-degree murder one month after the charge was filed against him. He also agreed to a sentence of 19 years in prison, the maximum allowed under the Minnesota Sentencing guidelines. He will be sentenced June 3.

“We are grateful this case resulted in a significant penalty and a quick resolution for the victim and his family,” said Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Cheri Townsend, who prosecuted the case. “Our thanks go out to all of the law enforcement agencies who worked on the investigation and the medical personnel who treated and cared for our young victim.”

During the morning hearing before Hennepin County District Court Judge Jeannice Reding, Aranda’s lawyer asked a series of questions in which Aranda agreed that he was giving up all of his rights to a trial and pleading guilty.

Aranda said he was a high school graduate, that he was not treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist and he was not taking any medications. When his lawyer asked if he was under the influence of alcohol or mentally ill at the time of the incident, Aranda leaned into the microphone and clearly stated, “no.”

He admitted in court that on April 12, he went to the Mall of America and was on the third floor when he spotted a child and decided to murder him.

“You approached the child and dropped him over the railing?” his attorney asked. “Yes,” he replied.

Aranda admitted that he knew the 40 foot fall would likely kill the boy and he formed the intent to kill him.

Senior Assistant County Attorney Cheri Townsend asked Aranda several questions, including, “you didn’t just drop him, but you threw him over the railing?” He replied, “Yes.”

According to the criminal complaint, the boy was at the mall with his mother and she saw Aranda come close to them and she asked if he wanted them to move. Instead, he picked up the boy, threw him and then ran but another witness tried to stop him. Aranda pushed the witness against a wall and kept running until police were able to capture him on the light-rail train outside the mall.

Aranda told police he had come to the mall the day before intending to kill an adult, but that it did not “work out,” according to the complaint. He returned April 12 and chose the boy instead. He told police he knew what he was planning to do was wrong. Aranda said he had been coming to the mall for years, tried to speak to women there and they rejected him. That made him lash out and act aggressively.

As part of the plea negotiations, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the aggravating factors, such as the boy’s vulnerability and the particular cruelty of the act. If a jury had agreed those factors were proven, the judge could have sentence Aranda to the statutory maximum sentence of 20 years, one more than he agreed to serve Tuesday.