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Woman Sentenced to Jail for Accidentally Killing Her Boyfriend in YouTube Stunt

Monalisa Perez shot her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz while he held an encyclopedia to his chest.
Perez and Ruiz. Screengrab: YouTube

A 20-year-old Minnesota woman was sentenced to a 180-day jail term on Wednesday for fatally shooting her boyfriend during a YouTube stunt last June.

According to the Star Tribune, Monalisa Perez, who was pregnant with the couple’s second child at the time of the shooting, will be able to serve her time in 10-day increments. She was also barred from ever owning a firearm or getting paid for telling the story of the shooting.


Perez shot Pedro Ruiz III while filming a YouTube video for the couple’s page, which is still up. During the video, which was never published, Ruiz reportedly held an encyclopedia to his chest while Perez stood nearby. The stunt was apparently designed to test whether a bullet could travel through the book. The couple’s three-year-old daughter was nearby at the time of the shooting, the Star Tribune reported.

Perez also sent out a tweet—which was never deleted—about the video beforehand, stating that it would be “one of the most dangerous videos ever,” and that the stunt was Ruiz’s idea.

“We were doing a YouTube video, and it went wrong,” she said during the 911 call, adding that everything had been captured on the recording.

Prosecutor James Brue said at the sentencing, the Star Tribune reported , 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." According to the criminal complaint, Perez told the police that “Pedro Ruiz III had been trying to get her to shoot the book while he held it for a YouTube video for awhile.”

Read More: A Viral Slingshot Channel Started a YouTuber's Union

As The Ringer pointed out at the time, while Ruiz’s death had all the hallmarks of a modern tabloid story—attempts at internet fame, a young couple, columnists decrying the toxicity of “likes"—it was, at the end of the day, a tragic story about a young couple whose commonplace pursuit came with horrific consequences.

It wasn’t the first time that chasing after views has pushed young YouTubers, and their fans, to dangerous extremes. Last year, YouTuber Jay Swingler nearly suffocated during the filming of a video in which he stuck his head in a microwave filled with hardening paste.

As for Ruiz and Perez, "They were in love,” Ruiz’s aunt told Valley News Live last June. “It was just a prank gone wrong. It shouldn't have happened like this. It shouldn't have happened at all."

Motherboard has reached out to YouTube about Perez’s sentencing, and we’ll update if we hear back.

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