YouTube prankster jailed for shooting boyfriend dead

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Monalisa Perez and Pedro Ruiz. File photoImage source, Youtube
Image caption,
The couple had posted videos of their pranks to YouTube in a quest for internet fame

A US woman has been sentenced to six months' imprisonment for shooting dead her boyfriend in a botched stunt they hoped would go viral on YouTube.

Monalisa Perez, now 20, was asked by Pedro Ruiz, 22, to fire a gun from a foot (30cm) away, believing a thick book he held in front of his chest would shield him.

The bullet pierced the 1.5in book, fatally wounding Ruiz last June.

Perez, a mother of two, later pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

What are Perez's sentencing terms?

Minnesota Judge Jeffrey Remick set out the terms agreed under plea bargaining on Wednesday. Perez will:

  • Serve a 180-day jail term. This will be an alternating 10 days in jail and 10 days out for the first six months, amounting to 90 days behind bars. The remaining 90 days can be served in home confinement. The jail time can be served in South Dakota, where she now lives
  • Serve 10 years of supervised probation
  • Be banned for life from owning firearms
  • Make no financial gain from the case

The sentencing is below state guidelines but Norman County Attorney James Brue said "the reality [is] that this foolish stunt was dreamed up, planned and executed by Pedro Ruiz, and the defendant wrongfully and tragically relied on his assurances that the stunt was safe".

What did the couple want to achieve?

Perez and Ruiz had been documenting their everyday lives in Halstad, Minnesota, by posting videos of their pranks to a YouTube channel in a quest for internet fame.

They had filmed some minor pranks, which seemed relatively harmless.

Image source, Twitter/@MonalisaPerez5
Image caption,
She told police the stunt had been Ruiz's idea, and that he had to convince her to do it

And there was little indication of how far they were prepared to go in order to become online celebrities until the fatal stunt on 26 June 2017.

On that day Perez fired a powerful Desert Eagle handgun from close range, as Ruiz held an encyclopaedia in front of his chest.

He had experimented previously and thought the thick book would protect him, but the couple's three-year-old child and nearly 30 onlookers watched as she fired a fatal bullet.

Perez called 911 to report she had accidentally shot her boyfriend.

Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene at their home.

Perez was pregnant with their second child at the time of the shooting.