Sunday 9 December 2018

Woman who shot boyfriend dead in YouTube stunt sentenced to six months in prison

19-year-old Monalisa Perez shot her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz dead
19-year-old Monalisa Perez shot her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz dead

Mythili Sampathkumar

An American woman who fatally shot her boyfriend in a stunt they hoped would go viral on YouTube has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Pedro Ruiz, 22, had asked Monalisa Perez, 20, to shoot him with a gun from about one foot (30 cm) away. He thought the 1.5in (4cm) book he was holding in front of his chest would stop the bullet from hitting him. Instead it killed him as the couple's three-year-old daughter witnessed the incident and Perez was pregnant at the time with their second child.

Perez, from Minnesota, had pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and her sentence is a result of a plea bargain. A trial may have resulted in ten years in prison with a $20,000 fine.

The mother of two will serve an alternating sentence for the first six months - 10 days in jail and 10 days out - in the US state of South Dakota where she now resides.

The remaining 90 days of her prison sentence will be served at home in confinement.

She will also serve 10 years probation and is permanently banned from owning a firearm.

Monalisa Perez (Noman County Sherrif's Office)
Monalisa Perez (Noman County Sherrif's Office)

The sentencing is below the normal minimums for the crime in Minnesota but prosecutor 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”.

Perez had told investigators in the wake of the 26 June incident that Mr Ruiz had been “trying to get her” to fire the gun “for a while”. Mr Ruiz had shown her a book he had shot with the same gun to demonstrate that the bullet did not go through the entire volume.

Part of the sentence is that she is not allowed to financially gain from the video of Mr Ruiz’s death.

She and Mr Ruiz had posted a series of nearly 20 videos to YouTube featuring mostly harmless pranks: Mr Ruiz climbing a tree and falling from a branch, Perez feeding him a doughnut covered with talcum powder instead of powdered sugar, eating the world’s spiciest pepper.

The young couple had dreamed of what they could do with an audience of 300,000 subscribers or more. Many YouTube stars have turned their fan base into a profitable business through product advertising and sponsorship.

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