VAN NUYS — A North Hollywood man was sentenced Monday to 56 years to life for fatally stabbing an 18-year-old man, and his prison privileges were restricted because of alleged jury tampering.
Shawn Probst, 36, was convicted of second-degree murder in a June retrial in Van Nuys Superior Court. His first trial ended in a hung jury in March, but new physical evidence was introduced in the second trial.
Probst will be incarcerated at least 56 years, having qualified for the maximum penalty under the state's three-strikes law. He has two convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.
His attorney has filed an appealed.
In an unusual development, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Leland B. Harris said he received information that Probst tried to tamper with the jury. Probst's attorney, Jim Goldstein, said a female friend of his client tried to contact at least two jurors after his June 22 conviction. Probst wanted to ensure that there was no improper conduct on behalf of jurors, the attorney added.
"What you did was highly improper," the judge told Probst, adding that he was restricting the defendant's visitation rights and phone use while in prison. "There is no legal justification for the contact with the jury. I can't trust you, sir."
Probst was convicted of slashing the throat of Daniel Singer, of North Hollywood, on April 24, 1999.
The defendant met a group of youths, including Singer, at a church carnival and followed them to a North Hollywood house.
Later that night, witnesses said, Probst made racist comments and was talking loudly outside the house. When Singer went outside and asked him to lower his voice, Probst pulled out a knife and stabbed him, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lea Purwin D'Agostino said.
Probst allegedly also stabbed 20-year-old Carlos Lopez. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the attempted murder charge regarding Lopez.
Probst, who testified at both trials, said he acted in self-defense.