A Minnesota woman who mistakenly shot her boyfriend to death in a stunt concocted for YouTube fame "tragically relied on his assurances" before pulling the trigger, the prosecutor said Wednesday after the woman was sentenced to jail.
Monalisa Perez's punishment, as outlined in an agreement to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter, is a 180-day jail term and lifetime bans on possessing a firearm or receiving payment for telling the story of the June shooting of 22-year-old Pedro Ruiz III outside their home in the northwestern Minnesota town of Halstad.
The sentence falls below state sentencing guidelines that would have sent her to prison. Norman County Attorney James Brue said that was proper under the circumstances for the 20-year-old mother of two.
Brue said he is satisfied that the sentence holds her accountable for "culpable negligence that led to the tragic and completely avoidable death."
He also pointed out "the reality 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."
Two of Ruiz's relatives made victim impact statements during the proceedings. Perez chose not to speak.
Claudia Ruiz, an aunt of Pedro Ruiz, told reporters afterward that Perez understood what she was doing when she participated in the stunt, which was recorded with two cameras set up by the couple.
Judge Jeffrey Remick agreed that Perez can serve her jail time in South Dakota, where she now lives.
Remick also agreed that Perez, who retains custody of their two children, can serve her jail time in 10-day increments. She also will be on probation for 10 years.
For the stunt, Ruiz held a hardcover encyclopedia against his chest and Perez, standing barely a foot away, fired a shot from a .50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol, to see if the bullet would go through the book. The Desert Eagle is described by retailer Cabela's in an online ad as "one of the world's most powerful semiautomatic handguns."
The bullet passed through the book, Ruiz fell mortally wounded and Perez called 911.
"We were doing a YouTube video, and it went wrong," a transcript of the call quoted Perez. "It's all on recording." She spelled out her concern on Twitter a few hours before the shooting. "Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE," she wrote.
Perez has a YouTube channel with videos the couple made of various stunts and pranks. The channel remains live and has drawn millions of views since Ruiz's death.