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Man convicted in 2010 Persian New Year's party killing

November 18, 2011 |  8:50 am

Steven Honma of A Westlake Village was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the slaying of a guest at a 2010 Persian New Year's gathering
This post has been updated. See below for details.

A Westlake Village man has been acquitted of murder but convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the slaying of a 50-year-old party guest following an argument at a 2010 Persian New Year's gathering.

Steven Honma was acquitted Thursday of a single murder count by a Van Nuys jury, which deliberated for five days and also considered convictions for first- or second-degree murder, said his attorney, Dmitry Gorin.

With the voluntary manslaughter conviction, Honma faces up to 21 years in state prison. He is due to be sentenced Jan. 4 by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson.

Gorin and co-counsel Alan Eisner argued at trial that the slaying of Norman Schureman was the result of an accidental shooting in which their client was assaulted while trying to protect one of the hosts of the party.

But with a case built by L.A. County Sheriff's Department homicide investigators, prosecutors argued that it was Homma who was being hostile and belligerent to those attending the March 20, 2010, Persian New Year's celebration in the 31700 block of Kentfield Court in Westlake Village.

During her closing argument, Deputy Dist. Atty. Maureen Green argued that Honma talked about killing throughout the party and told those attending that he was with the CIA. The event turned ugly when Honma got into a fight with a relative of the victim and put him in a headlock, she said.

After being told to stop, Green said, Honma literally skipped out of the house and back home.

Once there, prosecutors said, Honma changed clothes and armed himself with several weapons, including a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun, ammunition and a serrated hunting-type knife. He returned to the home and began playing with the hunting knife and babbling incoherently, alarming other guests, they said.

When asked to leave a second time, a fight ensued as guests tried to take the knife away from him, prosecutors said. In the chaotic moments that followed, they said, the defendant pulled out the handgun and opened fire, mortally wounding Schureman.

Schureman, who lived in Altadena with his wife and children, was a respected design and drawing instructor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He helped build floats for the Rose Parade as a hobby and recently launched a line of eyewear.

Gorin and Eisner argued that Honma made no specific threats to party-goers but was concerned about the safety of woman who was the party host.

"He was sitting in a chair fiddling with the knife when two men took him to the ground and started hitting him while was he was on his back," Eisner said. "Mr. Schureman basically jumped on top of Mr. Homna while being held down by two other people."

The attorneys noted that the gun went off once at the same time three people were on top of the defendant.

[Updated, 2:58 p.m. Nov. 23: In response to a reader's concern, we have clarified the lead paragraph to say that Steven Honma was acquitted of murder but convicted of voluntary manslaughter.]


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Photo: The home where Norman Schureman was shot and killed at a Persian New Year's party. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times