Man pleads guilty to tossing boy off Minnesota mall balcony

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(Reuters) – A man who admitted hurling a 5-year-old boy off a third-floor balcony at Minnesota’s Mall of America pleaded guilty on Tuesday to attempted murder, agreeing to a 19-year prison sentence.

The child, who was critically injured, inspired well-wishers to donate more than $1 million to a GoFundMe campaign titled “Help for Landen – Mall of America Attack Victim.” The donations continued to grow as the attacker returned to court.

Emmanuel Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, entered a plea deal in Hennepin County District Court. He agreed to be sentenced on June 3 to 19 years in prison, said Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the Hennepin County District Attorney’s Office.

Aranda pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.

His public defender, Paul Sellers, could not be reached for immediate comment.

Aranda, who was being held in lieu of $2 million bond, has a history of mental issues and arrests on minor charges.

He admitted dropping the boy nearly 40 feet (12 meters), telling investigators he had been visiting the mall for years to try to talk to women, but was rejected and became angry, prosecutors wrote in a criminal complaint. Aranda said he initially intended to kill an adult, but chose the boy instead.

The boy, who was initially listed as critical but whose condition had improved as of last month, was described on the donation site as a sweet, kind child who enjoyed soccer and playing hockey with his brother and sister.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; editing by Bill BerkrotOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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