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Man sentenced to 21 years in death of Pasadena Art Center teacher

February 3, 2012 |  7:34 am

Westlake Village man sentenced in killing

This post has been correct. See note at bottom for details.

A Westlake Village man was sentenced Thursday to 21 years in prison for fatally shooting an instructor from Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design during a Persian New Year's party.

In November, Steven Honma, 56, was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Norman Schureman, 50.

The two were at a Persian New Year’s Eve party in Westlake Village on March 20, 2010, when Honma was asked to leave. He returned with several weapons, ammunition and a serrated knife, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. When he was asked to leave a second time a fight ensued and Honma shot Schureman.

In a 2010 intereview, Honma's attorney Dmitry Goren said that his client had become upset after hearing his wife subjected to "a racial and sexual slur."

At the time, Goren said the 54-year-old engineer had been traumatized from years of insults targeting his Japanese heritage. "This is a textbook heat-of-passion incident, which a jury would consider in deciding whether Mr. Honma is guilty of murder or a lower-level homicide such as a manslaughter.

"While the sequence of events are still under investigation, there was someone at the party who made a derogatory racial and sexual slur about his wife. As a Japanese American growing up after World War II, Mr. Honma had experienced great trauma as a victim of racial bias, and that experience scarred him since childhood."

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 party.

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 went 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.

Schureman was an Art Center alumnus and drawing instructor. After his death the school installed a memorial tree and plaque in his honor and created the Norm Schureman Sketch Garden.

[For the record, 12:11 p.m. Feb. 3: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that defense attorney Dmitry Goren represented Norman Schureman. He represented Steven Honma. The earlier post did not indicate that Goren's comments were made in 2010.


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-- Adolfo Flores, Times Community News

Photo: The Westlake Village house where Norman Schureman was shot and killed in 2010. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times