Prison for Soccer Player Who Killed Ref With Punch

Plea deal will have Bassel Saad serve to 8 to 15 years for John Bieniewicz's death
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 20, 2015 10:11 AM CST
Prison for Soccer Player Who Killed Ref With Punch
FILE- In this July 10, 2014, file photo, Bassel Abdul Saad, left, sits with his attorney Ali Hammoud, during his arraignment before Judge Kathleen McCann in the 16th District Court in Livonia, Mich.   (David Coates)

A recreational soccer player charged in the one-punch killing of a referee during a game has agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors in which he would serve eight to 15 years in prison, a defense lawyer says. Cyril Hall says his client Bassel Saad plans to offer a plea of either guilty or no contest to involuntary manslaughter during a hearing today in Detroit. The prosecutor's office confirmed a plea was expected. Saad, 36, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old John Bieniewicz last summer. His trial had been scheduled to begin Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court. The auto mechanic from Dearborn would have faced up to life in prison if convicted as charged. "When you do the math, it didn't make sense to run the risk," Hall says.

Kris Bieniewicz, the victim's wife, said earlier this week she hoped Saad "never sees the light of day." Such an outcome would let the world "know that justice was served, and John's life meant something," Bieniewicz said. Her husband was killed while refereeing an over-30 men's league match at Mies Park in Livonia. A number of players testified in court last year that Saad had been issued a yellow card following a foul in the first half of the June 29 match, and John Bieniewicz was about to issue him a second yellow for being verbally abusive when the referee was struck. He died two days later. His widow recently testified at Michigan's Capitol about proposed legislation she supports that would make it a felony to assault a sports official in the state. (More soccer stories.)

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