CITY NEWS SERVICE
VAN NUYS — A Westlake Village man was sentenced Feb. 2 to 21 years in prison for fatally shooting a longtime instructor from Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design at a Persian new year’s party at a neighbor’s home.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson denied the defense’s request for a new trial for Steven Ronald Honma, who was convicted Nov. 17 of voluntary manslaughter for the March 20, 2010, killing of Norman Schureman of Altadena.
Jurors acquitted Honma, now 56, of first-degree murder and second-degree murder.
Schureman was shot once while attending his mother-in-law’s annual Persian New Year’s gathering with his wife and two young sons. The 50-year-old artist died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Honma — who was a neighbor of Schureman’s mother-in-law — was involved in a struggle after returning with two guns, a serrated knife and fully loaded magazines of ammunition to the party from which he had been ejected 15 to 25 minutes earlier, according to Deputy District Attorney Maureen Green.
The prosecution theorized that Honma came back to the party to provoke a fight in order to be able to use the firearm in a feigned need for self-defense.
Honma’s attorney, Dmitry Gorin, said after the jury’s verdict that Honma suffered head trauma and facial fractures during the struggle, which occurred after his client had been escorted out of the party by other guests because of “intoxication and strange behavior.”
The defense contended that Honma, an engineer, had no intent to hurt anyone and that the gun went off accidentally after he was confronted.
Clarence Agatep, a close friend who attended Art Center with Schureman, was one of about 25 family members, friends or former students who submitted victim impact statements to the court.
“He had a personality that was larger than life … he loved adventures and nature. He was just full of energy,” Agatep said after the sentencing hearing. “The students really loved and respected him.”
The day after Schureman’s death, Agatep continued, “I was going through the morning routine, getting (my) kids ready and making their breakfast, realizing that my friend Norm’s sons will never, ever have those opportunities — to talk to their father again, (celebrate) Christmas, New Year’s together …”
Susan Schureman Nichols of Riverside County said her youngest brother “was truly the light of our lives. He was always bigger than life, charming, funny, smart, talented, even as a little boy. There’s such an empty hole without him.”
Nichols, who sat through the defendant’s three-week-long trial, said “going into this (sentencing) today, there was a lot of anxiety and not knowing what was going to happen, with (Honma) wanting a retrial weighing heavy on us.”
“For the judge to sentence him to the maximum was a huge relief,” she said. “He really knew who Norman was by reading our letters. We weren’t expecting the judge to speak to us personally to share our grief and the loss of such an amazing human being. He got what a talented, amazing person Norman was.”
Nichols added, “You never think you’re going to be sitting in a murder trial for your baby brother. It was very, very surreal to sit through that trial. You can’t believe it’s happening. We’ll try to move forward and find some peace now.”