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YouTube prankster who shot and killed boyfriend pleads guilty

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AFP |

A YouTube prankster from the US state of Minnesota has admitted fatally shooting her boyfriend in a botched video stunt she hoped would go viral. Monalisa Perez, a 20-year-old mother-of-two, believed her husband Pedro Ruiz would be shielded by a thick book as she took aim from close range in front of onlookers.

She pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree manslaughter and agreed to serve a six-month sentence. She will face a sentencing hearing in February. Perez and Ruiz, 22, were recording the stunt in June for their YouTube channel, where they published videos of their daily lives and pranks they performed. 

The couple’s YouTube channel was still active and its 18 videos have generated 4.7 million views. As part of her plea deal, Perez agreed to not seek financial gain from her case.

Ruiz convinced Perez to shoot him with a pistol as he held the tome in front of his chest. He presented her another book with a bullet hole on one side and no exit hole as proof his plan would work, police said. 

“Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever,” Perez wrote on Twitter prior to performing the stunt. “HIS idea not MINE.” With video cameras recording, Perez, who was pregnant with the couple’s second child, pulled the trigger from about a foot away, according to authorities. 

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The bullet pierced the book and fatally wounded Ruiz. He died at the scene of a single gunshot wound to the chest. Family and friends said at the time that the death was an accident and that Ruiz had been talking about performing the stunt for some time.

“I said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it,'” Claudia Ruiz, the young man’s aunt, told local TV station KVLY in June, adding that his response was, “We want more viewers.” In a deal with prosecutors, Perez agreed to serve three months in jail in one-month increments over three years, and then serve the other three months under house arrest. 

She will face a sentencing hearing in February. Perez and Ruiz, 22, were recording the stunt in June for their YouTube channel, where they published videos of their daily lives and pranks they performed. 

She will also be subject to 10 years of probation and a lifetime ban from possessing firearms. Although Perez has already agreed to the sentence with prosecutors, a judge can ignore the deal and impose a longer sentence. In such cases, defendants usually have the right to rescind their guilty plea and go on trial.

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Ruiz was a railroad worker, who had lived with foster parents before graduating high school, according to a published obituary. He met Perez in 2012 and they had their first child two years later. “Everyone that knew him, knew that he never hesitated to try something new, always pushing things to their limits,” the obituary said. 

The couple’s YouTube channel was still active and its 18 videos have generated 4.7 million views. As part of her plea deal, Perez agreed to not seek financial gain from her case.

© Agence France-Presse


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