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

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Emmanuel Aranda listens as Judge Jeannice Reding hands out his sentence.
Emmanuel Aranda, the man who threw a 5-year-old boy over a Mall of America balcony, listens as Judge Jeannice Reding handed out a 19-year sentence at the Hennepin County Government Center, Monday in Minneapolis.
Elizabeth Flores | Star Tribune

Updated 3 p.m. | Posted 10 a.m.

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, had already pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the April 12 attack.

Public defender Mary Moriarty spoke after Emmanuel Aranda's sentencing.
Chief Hennepin County public defender Mary Moriarty speaks after a June 3, 2019 sentencing hearing in Minneapolis for Aranda.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

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.

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.

Becky Aranda, the mother of Emmanuel Aranda, left, speaks to the media.
Becky Aranda, the mother of Emmanuel Aranda, left, speaks to the media after Judge Jeannice Reding handed him a 19-year sentence at the Hennepin County Government Center.
Elizabeth Flores | Star Tribune

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 for him, saying "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.

The case is a good reminder that people who commit crimes have often been victims of trauma, said Mary Moriarty, the chief public defender of Hennepin County, which represented Aranda.

"I think what we all need to think about as community is how to interrupt that, how to offer resources for people who are struggling with trauma so they don't end up in the criminal justice system," Moriarty said.