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Westlake Village man pleads not guilty to killing Pasadena art professor

April 6, 2010 |  7:34 pm

A 54-year-old Westlake Village resident who police say shot and killed a popular Pasadena art professor at a party pleaded not guilty to murder charges Tuesday.

Attorneys for Steven Ronald Honma, who was arraigned in a Van Nuys courtroom, said their client was defending himself during an attack at a neighbor’s party and did not intend to shoot Norman Schureman, 50, of Altadena.

On March 20, Honma and his wife attended a Persian new year’s party in Westlake Village, hosted by Schureman’s mother-in-law. Honma felt that someone had made a crude remark about his wife, and he took her to their home two doors away from the house where the party was held, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Liam Gallagher said.

Honma later returned to the party with a knife and two guns. Authorities say that after a fight broke out, Honma shot Schureman in the upper torso. Schureman died the next day at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.

Honma’s attorneys said their client was beaten during the fight and was hospitalized with head wounds and internal injuries.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged Honma with one count of murder and one count of possession of a firearm with a prior conviction.

“This is not a case of murder, rather an unintended and accidental homicide which occurred during the course of a physical struggle that Mr. Honma did not initiate,” Honma’s attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin said in a statement. “Friends, family and co-workers hold him in very high esteem and find the alleged conduct to be completely out of character.”

Honma was being held on $2-million bail. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

-- Corina Knoll