In April, Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda was identified as the man who threw 5-year-old Landen Hoffman off of the third floor of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was charged with attempted homicide. He was sentenced to 19-years in prison Monday, June 3.
According to the Star Tribune, Aranda formulated a plan to kill someone at the mall on April 12, but after falling unsuccessful he returned on the 13th.
Originally wanting to kill an adult, Aranda changed his mind and decided to push a 5-year-old, Landen over a railing 40-feet from the ground.
Aranda told police he had been going to the mall for several years and “had made efforts to talk to women in the Mall, but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and to be aggressive.”
After pushing Landen, medical responders arrived quickly and got him safely to the hospital. Landen suffered severe head injuries and broke several bones.
Here’s what you need to know about Aranda:
1. Aranda Entered His Guilty Plea on May 14
Aranda unexpectedly entered his guilty plea on May 14, according to KARE. Defense attorney Paul Sellers didn’t mention Aranda’s level of remorse following the crime, but he did insist that it was 100 percent Aranda’s decision to plead guilty.
According to KARE, some may complain about the 19-year sentence but state guidelines for this conviction were between 162 and 228 months.
Prosecutors said that Landen’s family was supportive of the deal. “They were supportive, absolutely,” Prosecutor Cheri Townsend said at the May 14 hearing.
The deal is one of the toughest sentence prosecutors could hope for without pursuing an aggravated sentence, per KARE.
2. Landen’s Parents Were Happy About the 19-Year Sentence
On top of Landen’s parents being supportive of the sentencing, their messaging at Aranda’s hearing seemingly took a tone of the “high-road.”
Although they did not attend the hearing, both Landen’s mother and father prepared statements to be read at the hearing.
“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. “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.”
“I want you to know I forgive you, not because what you did was OK, not because I want to, but because God wants me to,” Landen’s mother wrote. “I refuse to be full of anger and hatred. I refuse to let you let you take my joy. My sweet precious baby, my amazing gift from God is going to be OK.”
3. Aranda’s Mother Claims Her Son is Mentally Ill
Becky Aranda, Emmanuel’s mother, told KARE her son needs help for mental illness and he doesn’t belong in jail.
In an earlier hearing in May, Becky Aranda told reporters that she wasn’t allowed to visit her son while he was in custody. She also added that he was acting erratically leading up to the tragic incident.
Becky Aranda told reporters she is happy Landen’s family is one of forgiveness.
“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. “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.”
When given the chance to make a statement at the sentencing hearing or apologize to Landen’s family, Aranda did and said nothing, per KARE.
4. Aranda’s Uncle Also Claims Emmanuel Aranda is Mentally Ill
At the time of Aranda’s arrest, WCCO spoke with Aranda’s uncle about the incident.
“It’s gut-wrenching. I can’t believe this happened,” Aranda’s uncle said. “I’m at a loss for words.”
From Philadelphia, Aranda’s uncle wanted to make sure Landen was okay. “They’re the ones suffering right now. I can’t even imagine what the mom is going through,” he said.
Aranda’s uncle struck a chord similar to his mother, claiming Aranda is not mentally well.
“My nephew he had mental problems for a long time, for a very long time,” Aranda’s uncle said. “He needed help for a really long time.”
Aranda’s uncle said he was praying for Landen’s mother.
“We’re all praying for that mom because we can’t imagine what she’s going through. We just can’t imagine what she’s going through. Praying for her and her family period. We’re doing that,” Aranda’s uncle said.
This isn’t the first crime Aranda has committed, as he has a litany of past citations racked up on his record including a felony conviction for first-degree damage to property.
5. Landen is Doing Better & His GoFundMe has Racked up Over $1 Million
According to KARE, when the incident happened Landen and his mother were standing outside of Rainforest Cafe. Once Aranda walked up, Landen’s mother asked if they were in his way but without warning, Aranda scooped Landen up and tossed him over the railing as he fell 40 feet to the floor.
With Landen’s GoFundMe raising just over $1 million some of the pressure is taken off of the family’s backs.
“This is Landen, he is the sweetest kindest 5 year old you will ever meet. His soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets. He is full of energy and life and enjoys soccer, playing with friends and family and playing hockey with his brother and sister. He was enjoying a day at the Mall of America with his mom and friend on Friday morning when a stranger maliciously grabbed him and threw him over the 3rd floor balcony for no apparent reason,” Landen’s GoFundMe says. “The family doesn’t know him and are completely clueless as to why this monster would target their family with this heinous act of violence.”
According to the GoFundMe page, Landen’s family offered an update saying the “continued prayers and well-wishes” are working.
“He is recovering, and his spirit is strong – but there is still a long road ahead,” the update says.