Man pleads guilty to throwing boy from Mall of America balcony

Emmanuel Aranda, the man charged with throwing a 5-year-old boy from a third floor balcony at Mall of America, entered a guilty plea Tuesday morning in Hennepin County District Court. Aranda, 24, agreed to a sentence of 19 years in prison

Aranda was charged with first-degree attempted murder for the April 12 attack. According to the criminal complaint, he told police he went to the mall "looking for someone to kill" and knew what he was doing was wrong.

Prosecutors filed a notice with the court last week that they intended to seek an aggravated sentence because the child victim was "particularly vulnerable" and "was treated with particular cruelty" and the incident happened in front of the boy's mother and "numerous" other children. That motion was dropped as part of Tuesday's plea deal.

On the morning of Friday, April 12, the boy and his mother were at Mall of America with a friend and their child. They were outside the Rainforest Cafe when a stranger approached them, picked up the boy and threw him over the balcony.

The boy fell approximately 39 feet, according to police. Officers rendered aid to him and he was taken to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

Aranda was arrested a short time later while waiting for the light rail train at the mall. He told police he had gone to the mall the day before looking for an adult to kill, but it did not work out, the charges say. He returned the following day and chose the 5-year-old boy instead.

The boy injured in the incident was alert and conscious, according an April 26 update from a family representative.

"All praise and glory and honor to Jesus," said Stephen Tillitt, the family representative. "He saved our son's life and is healing him in the most miraculous ways. We are now turning our focus to additional surgeries, healing, rehabilitation and eventually a return home, which we hope will happen by June," read Tillitt. "We want to thank each and every one of you for your love, prayers and support."

A GoFundMe campaign for the boy's recovery has raised more than $1 million.

Aranda will be sentenced June 3.