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Man convicted in 2010 Persian New Year's party killing

November 18, 2011

normA Westlake Village man has been 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, Homna 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, Homna 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.

Andrew Blankstein


Murder in Westlake stuns community

Fatalities possibly higher if not for victim's swift action

normThe Westlake Village man charged with murder during a Persian New Year’s party March 20 in Westlake Village might have killed several people had he not been stopped in his tracks, a guest who witnessed the incident has told The Acorn.

Steven Honma, 54, is charged in the shooting death of Norman Schureman, 50, of Altadena.

The guest, a Westlake Village resident who asked to remain anonymous because he’s a police witness in the case, called Schureman a hero. In a city where murder is non-existent, the incident left locals stunned.

Honma had been drinking during the party and at one point felt that his wife had been insulted, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Liam Gallagher said. Honma left the party with his wife then returned alone, armed with a knife and two handguns.

“What I keep asking myself is why would a person come back to the party with two guns, lots of ammunition and a knife?” said the guest, who was at the party with his wife and children. “I think this guy Norman really saved a lot of people’s lives because I think [Honma] was there to do as much damage as he could indiscriminately—shoot as many people as possible.”

The shooting took place at about 11:15 p.m. in the backyard of the home of Schureman’s mother-in-law in the 31700 block of Kentfield Court in Westlake Village.

The guest said he was seated by a fireplace in the backyard garden when Honma arrived and sat next to him.

“He asked me something I didn’t quite understand, or he was just talking to himself,” said the man, noticing that Honma was fiddling with a knife. “Norm Schureman saw that and came toward him and very nicely said, ‘Oh, please put that aside, give that to me.’”

Schureman tried to take the knife from Honma’s right hand.

“This guy [Honma] said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you,’” the guest said. Another man came to Schureman’s aid, grabbed Honma’s left hand and pulled a gun out from under Honma’s shirt. Schureman, who was still trying to wrestle the knife from Honma fell when Honma’s chair tipped over. There was a gunshot. Several people jumped on Honma and held him down until police arrived.

“Somebody punched him because he would not give up,” the man said. “I saw that Norman got up and then fall on the ground. He said, ‘You shot me.’”

There were as many as 40 people at the party, including families with children. One of Schureman’s children saw him on the ground with the gunshot wound to his upper torso.

“Can you imagine a child seeing something like this? It was awful,” the guest said. Schureman was taken to UCLA Medical Center in Westwood where he died.

Honma was booked into Los Angeles County Jail and remains in custody with internal injuries and head wounds. On Tuesday, he was charged in a Van Nuys courtroom with murder and possession of a firearm. He wasn’t there due to his injuries.

“Once he’s well enough he will be arraigned,” Gallagher said.

Honma, said to be an engineer, is being represented by Van Nuys criminal attorney Dmitry Gorin. For more than 20 years Schureman taught design and drawing at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

“Norman was a beloved instructor, colleague, mentor and friend of hundreds of Art Center students, faculty, staff and alumni,” college president Lorne Buchman wrote on the school’s website. “Our hearts go out to Norm’s entire family. We join as a community in grieving this painful and devastating loss,” Buchman said.

By Sophia Fischer


Man killed during scuffle with unwanted Westlake party guest.

normThe fatal shooting of a 50-year-old art college instructor at a Persian New Year party in Westlake Village occurred during a scuffle that broke out after the suspect was asked to leave the gathering for a second time, authorities said Monday.

The shooting occurred about 11:10 p.m. Saturday on the back patio of a home in the 31700 block of Kentfield Court, an upscale Westlake Village neighborhood.

The victim, Norman Schureman, and the suspect, Steven Honma, were both guests at the party, said Lt. Liam Gallagher of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Honma, who lives on Kentfield, was initially at the party with his wife. Several guests told authorities that he got drunk and was asked to leave, Gallagher said.

Honma and his wife left and went home. Honma returned to the party on his own after telling his wife she had been insulted, changing his clothes and arming himself with a knife and two semi-automatic handguns, Gallagher said.

After returning, Honma was seen flicking open a collapsible pocket knife and was again asked to leave, Gallagher said.

“He ended up getting into a physical altercation” with several people, including Schureman, Gallagher said. “It was during that scuffle that he pulled the gun and fired.”

Schureman was shot in the torso. He was taken to UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, where he died early Sunday, authorities said.

Honma, 55, was detained by partygoers until sheriff’s deputies arrived and took him into custody. There were about 30 people at the party, Gallagher said.

Honma was taken to a local hospital for injuries he sustained in the scuffle and was in serious condition, Gallagher said. He had not yet been booked into Los Angeles County Jail.

Authorities expected, however, to book him on suspicion of murder, Gallagher said.

Sheriff’s deputies recovered two semi-automatic handguns registered to the suspect, as well as several magazines of ammunition, Gallagher said. The pistols were a .45-caliber and a 9 mm, said the lieutenant.

Investigators believe the suspect’s intoxication combined with the perceived insult to his wife sparked the violence, Gallagher said. It did not appear Schureman was specifically targeted, but that was not confirmed, Gallagher said. Schureman was an Altadena resident and an instructor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Art Center spokesman Jered Gold said the Westlake Village party was hosted by relatives of Schureman’s wife.

Relatives told him that Schureman had no contact with Honma before the suspect returned to the party after being asked to leave, Gold said. “They didn’t interact at all until the suspect returned to the house and they found out that he had weapons,” he said.

Relatives said that after the suspect was seen with the knife, three men grabbed him and one pulled a gun and two knives away from him, Gold said.

They said Schureman was shot after he jumped on the suspect, trying to help wrestle him to the ground, Gold said.

“They view Norm’s act as an act of heroism and bravery,” Gold said, adding that relatives believe others would have been shot or injured if he had not acted.

Residents of the neighborhood were stunned and saddened by the homicide.

“I was really shocked,” said neighbor Beverly McLendon. “We’ve lived here since 1971 and we’ve never had anything like this ever.”

McLendon said Honma helped her put up Christmas lights during several seasons, and she was especially shocked that he is the suspect.

McLendon and several others described him as a nice, friendly man. Cris McCann, who lives nearby, said Honma also was meticulous, with a motorcycle and Corvette in pristine condition.

Neighbor Bill Waugh, however, said he had several run-ins with the suspect, including an ongoing dispute over Honma shining floodlights into the Waugh home. Waugh, 63, said he and his wife kept their distance from Honma, and that he seemed “unstable” at times.

A woman who answered the door at Honma’s home declined to comment, telling a reporter to “go away.”

Students and colleagues were distraught Monday at the Art Center, where Schureman taught for more than 20 years, college officials said. An informal memorial was held Monday, and grief counselors were on campus.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Schureman began teaching at the college in 1992, Gold said. He went to the college himself, studying product design and graduating in 1985.

Schureman was married and had two sons, Gold said. He taught classes in areas including product design and sketching.

“He was a really good teacher, beloved by his students,” said Bob Kato, a friend and longtime colleague at the Art Center.

An energetic man who always walked quickly around campus, Schureman was known as a rigorous teacher who led by example, Kato said.

Schureman had an impressive command of drawing and continued working in the design world while he taught. He recently told Kato he was looking forward to the upcoming launch of a line of sunglasses he had designed.

“Everybody is a little bit lost,” Kato said of the college’s reaction to the death.

By Adam Foxman
March 22, 2010


Slain art teacher honored at crowded memorial

norm“And to those I left behind, I wanted you to know

You’ve always shared my deepest thoughts. You follow where I go.”

— Alan Parsons Project

PASADENA — The flag flew at half-staff over the Pasadena Art Center College of Design on Sunday as hundreds of people blanketed the grassy field behind the school to honor alumnus and faculty member Norman Schureman.

The 50-year-old art professor died of a gunshot wound he suffered at a Persian New Year party March 20 in Westlake Village. Another guest at the party, neighborhood resident Steven Honma, 54, was charged Tuesday with Schureman’s murder.

According to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators, Honma was asked to leave the party after he became intoxicated, then returned with a knife and a two guns. He is accused of shooting Schureman, an Altadena resident, as party guests tried to subdue Honma, who allegedly was angry because he thought somebody insulted his wife.

“You always see on the news that people die senselessly,” Schureman’s widow, Fati Schureman, 45, said at the memorial service. “But you don’t know how it feels until it happens to you.”

The couple’s two boys, Milo, 11, and Kian, 9, stood by their mother at the podium as she spoke to the standing-room-only crowd. Milo stretched up to reach the microphone and said: “I miss you, Dad.”

Schureman’s father, Bob Schureman, who also is a popular industrial-design teacher at the art center, spoke about how much his son loved the school and his students.

All three of Schureman’s siblings spoke. Older brothers Ray, 57, and Steve, 55, told stories about family vacations in a beat-up van and how Norm accidentally got left behind once. Steve talked about the goats, ducks, lizards and other critters that wandered around the family homestead and how a duck named “Drake-Drake” had pecked Norman when he was a toddler, making him afraid to go into the yard.

The brothers also read anecdotes submitted by family members, including one from a nephew who recalled finding Uncle Norm one day, relaxing in a hot tub, even though the hot tub was empty.

"He was chilling in an empty spa eating a bowl of Cap'n Crunch," eldest brother Ray Schureman said.

He was a man who loved music, nature, cooking, hugs and good Reuben sandwiches at Philippe’s restaurant in Los Angeles, family members said.

Nephew Kurtis Schureman, 25, of Costa Mesa, shared his uncle’s love of music. He and three musical friends played “Your Song” by Elton John and “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.

As she sat in the front row and listened to her nephew sing the words “You’ve always shared my darkest hours ... I’ll miss you when I go,” Norman’s sister, Susan Nichols, 51, sobbed, her shoulders shaking.

Norman’s father-in-law, Abbas Hadjian, noted that Norman was born on the last day of December in 1959, and died on the first day of spring in 1389 of the Persian New Year.

“Seven days and seven hours ago, Norman’s biological heart stopped beating,” Hadjian said. “But his metaphysical heart started pounding and will be with us wherever we go, whatever we do.”

After the service on the lawn, guests gathered in the school cafeteria for a reception. Some stopped in Room 203, where Schureman taught. Students were encouraged to express themselves with words and sketches on pads of sketch paper laid out in a parade of neat squares along the long desks bracketing the room.

One of Schureman’s students, Abraham Peters, 24, sketched a few shapes, looked up and grinned when he saw what someone had written in block letters on the blackboard. Peters had heard it a hundred times from his teacher and mentor, Norman Schureman:

“OK now, get back to work and start drawing!”

By Kim Lamb Gregory
March 28, 2010