The man who picked up a 5-year-old boy at the largest mall in the United States before hurling him over the edge of the balcony was sentenced to 19 years in prison on June 3.
Emmanuel Aranda, 24, admitted to police officers that he picked up Landen Hoffman and threw him. The boy plummeted to the floor, slammed into it, and suffered severe injuries.
Aranda was arrested on April 12, the same day the incident took place at the Mall of America, just outside Minneapolis.
According to the police report, Aranda went to the mall that day looking for someone to kill, ultimately settling on the boy. Aranda’s uncle later said that Aranda has serious mental problems, while arrest records showed that he was arrested for breaking glasses at the mall, resisting arrest, and assault.
Aranda was also arrested for smashing computers at the Sumner Library in Minneapolis in August 2015. He told officers that he grew angry after reading something on Facebook, leading him to smash five computers.
In Minnesota, people convicted of a felony serve the first 2/3 of the sentence in prison, then the last 1/3 under “supervised release.” So that means Aranda will be behind bars for 12 years and 7 months assuming he gets credit for the two months he’s spent in jail.
— Lou Raguse (@LouRaguse) June 3, 2019
Aranda on Monday was offered a chance to apologize to Landen’s family but refused to do so.
“Is there anything you want to say?” asked Hennepin County District Judge Jeannice Reding, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“No,” Aranda said.
Landen’s parents were not in the courtroom but sent statements that were read before the sentence was announced.
Miracle recovery: The family of 5-year-old Landen Hoffman, the boy thrown off a balcony at the Mall of America, said Friday that he is out of critical condition and is “alert and responsive.” https://t.co/T4dZ4oZaHL
— News 8 – WROC-TV (@News_8) April 26, 2019
“I’m not letting you take any part of our family,” said the boy’s mother in her statement. “You’re not taking our love, our joy, our peace; you’re not taking anything! I refuse to be full of anger and hatred. I refuse to let you take my joy.”
“God will judge you someday, and I have peace with that,” she added. “I hand it off to him and you will take none of my thoughts ever again. I am done with you.”
“You intended evil that day, but God wants all for good. Landen, who was a nameless child to you, is not a name forgotten or unknown to God,” the boy’s father wrote in his statement. “Your act was evil and selfish. You chose to listen to the worst parts of yourself that day. You chose evil over good, and chose to take your hate and hurt out on my precious boy. You will take nothing more from us … you will not define our lives or our hearts.”
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Cheri Townsend said that it was “astonishing” that both parents forgave Aranda after what he did.
Emmanuel Aranda sentenced to 19 years in prison. His mom and childhood friend said he’s had mental health challenges his whole life and doesn’t believe he knew what he was doing when he threw Landen over the MOA balcony. #wcco pic.twitter.com/10jfNqv3RZ
— Christiane Cordero (@ChristianeWCCO) June 3, 2019
“The terror that Landen must have felt and the terror his mother felt watching it is unimaginable,” Townsend said, according to the Star-Tribune.
Aranda’s mother, Becky Aranda, was at the sentencing and said that her son was homeless when he tried to kill the boy. She said that her son’s mental health issues weren’t properly addressed and claimed he didn’t know what he was doing when he threw the boy over the edge of the balcony.
She also thanked the boy’s parents for forgiving her son.
“I’m glad that she has forgiven my son, which is like a burden that has been lifted off our shoulders,” she said, referencing the statement from Landen’s mother, reported KARE 11. “Her statement says a lot for us, that even though she doesn’t agree with what my son did, I like the fact that she prayed for him and asked for forgiveness for him.”