Local/state briefs

Man pleads guilty in mall attack against boy, faces 19 years

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A man who reportedly told investigators that he went to the Mall of America “looking for someone to kill” pleaded guilty Tuesday to throwing a 5-year-old boy from a third-floor balcony and faces 19 years in prison.

Emmanuel Aranda, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the April 12 attack. The child suffered head trauma and multiple broken bones but survived.

Aranda, 24, will be sentenced June 3. His plea deal calls for prosecutors to drop an aggravated-circumstances component to the charge that could have meant an additional year in prison. Prosecutor Cheri Ann Townsend said the boy’s family supports the deal.

Aranda was arrested moments after the attack as he waited to board a light-rail train at the mall, and police say he had quickly admitted to it.

A criminal complaint filed soon after the attack said Aranda told police he was angry at being rejected by women at the mall and was “looking for someone to kill” when he went there that day.

He had two past convictions for assaults at the mall, both in 2015, and had been banned from the property at one point. Court records showed that Aranda had been ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment after those attacks.

His attorney, Paul Sellers, previously said Aranda had been in mental health court in the past. But he said after Tuesday’s hearing that Aranda was mentally competent enough to proceed in the attempted murder case.

“He is competent, clearly. I wouldn’t be able to go forward with the plea if he wasn’t competent,” Sellers said.

He added that it was “absolutely, 100 percent” Aranda’s decision to plead guilty.

“He went into the courtroom and accepted full responsibility,” Sellers said. Barring “something unbelievably unusual,” Aranda will be out of prison in about 12 years, he said.

Suit seeks to hold Vatican at fault for abuse by US priests

ST. PAUL (AP) — Three brothers who were sexually abused by a priest from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Vatican, claiming the Holy See bears responsibility because the case was mishandled by former Archbishop John Nienstedt and the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States.

The lawsuit attempts to trace a direct line from clergy sex abuse victims to the Vatican, through Minnesota church officials. Luke, Stephen and Ben Hoffman were abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, roughly between 2009 and 2012.

“I have too many nieces and nephews to let something like this happen to anybody else,” Stephen Hoffman said about his decision to come forward.

Nienstedt and the former ambassador, Carlo Maria ViganÚ, have previously denied the allegations raised in the lawsuit. The Vatican’s U.S. lawyer, Jeffrey Lena, had no immediate comment. In the past Lena has described sex abuse lawsuits naming the Vatican as a defendant as publicity stunts.

Two other men who are among those suing the Vatican say they were molested by Catholic priests, one in Minnesota and one in California. Those two men sued the Vatican separately within the last year, but their attorney Jeff Anderson withdrew their cases in anticipation of Tuesday’s lawsuit. Anderson had also sued the Vatican on two prior occasions without success.

COMMENTS