Woman sentenced in YouTube prank death

Doug Carpenter
March 18, 2018

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.

Instead of the bullet lodging in the book as planned, it accidentally passed through, killing 22-year-old Ruiz in front of the couple's three-year-old child and nearly 30 onlookers at the pair's Halstad home.

At the time of the shooting, Perez was pregnant with the couple's second child.

On June 26, 2017, the couple set up two cameras for the stunt.

"This comes from the heart, where you shot him", she said during Monalisa Perez's sentencing at the Norman County Courthouse. The shooting on June 26, 2017 was part of aspiring YouTube star Pedro Ruiz's efforts to build an online following by performing unsafe stunts, according to police and media reports.

Before performing the stunt Perez tweeted: 'Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most unsafe videos ever.

Monalisa Perez and Ricardo Ruiz III were hoping to create a viral video - by stopping a bullet with a book.

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

Ruiz's aunt, Paulita Ruiz, told Perez during the sentencing on March 14 that she was at fault for ending her nephew's life.

She will also not be allowed to receive financial compensation for the recording of Ruiz's death or for telling her story about the fatal shooting.

Perez had previously experimented and thought that the thick book would protect him.

But the prosecutor, Norman County Attorney James Brue, made it clear the idea for the "foolish stunt" came from Ruiz; that was the reason for the relatively short sentence.

Family members said that they disagreed with the notion that it was Ruiz's idea to try to pull off the stunt.

Her YouTube channel remains active almost nine months after the shooting. The channel remains live almost nine months since the shooting and it has drawn millions of views since Ruiz's death.

The prosecution took the stance that Perez was not fully responsible for the death. The state has been experimenting with allowing judges to make the call, and The Forum joined with other news outlets in asking for access.

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