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YouTube Stunt Gone Wrong Ends in Manslaughter Plea

December 21, 2017, 4:18 PM UTC

A 20-year-old mother of two has plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Minnesota, after a planned YouTube stunt ended in the death of her boyfriend.

Monalisa Perez and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Pedro Ruiz III, were aspiring YouTube stars who had filmed a number of prank and stunt videos. According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the couple decided to push things further on June 26th of this year, by filming a ‘stunt’ in which Perez would shoot a book held against Ruiz’s chest. According to statements by Perez, the stunt was Ruiz’s idea, and he convinced her to go through with it by showing her another book that had stopped a bullet.

The book failed to protect Ruiz, though, and he was shot in the chest in front of one of the couple’s children and a crowd of dozens. Emergency crews failed to revive him at the scene, and he was later declared dead.

Authorities reportedly found a .50-caliber Desert Eagle – one of the most powerful handguns on the market – at the scene. Perez turned over recordings of the shooting to police.

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According to a plea deal reached between prosecutors and the defense in the case, Perez would serve 180 days in jail and 10 years on probation. Perez’s sentence is likely to be finalized in February.

Stunts and pranks have become one of the most popular genres on YouTube, where top video-makers can earn vast sums for their work. Perez had spoken with relish about how the couple’s life would change if they could grow their YouTube audience, and money and thrill-seeking have encouraged reckless behavior by many other YouTubers. That parallels the recent unmasking of a flood of exploitative videos of children on the platform.

Stunningly, Perez posted about the planned shooting on Twitter just beforehand, and that tweet is still live.

It is the final tweet on Perez’s account.