Man Who Fatally Punched Detroit Soccer Ref Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charge

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A man charged with fatally assaulting a referee at an adult league soccer game in suburban Detroit last year pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge of manslaughter, according to prosecutors. Bassel Saad, 36, was charged with second-degree murder in June after punching referee John Bieniewicz, 44, in the head when he signaled that he planned to eject Saad from a game being played in Livonia.

Bieniewicz died in the hospital two days later, and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office. Saad will face up to 15 years in prison for the reduced conviction of manslaughter, Wayne County prosecutors said. He is expected to be sentenced on March 13.

Saad was initially charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, but the charges were amended after Bieniewicz, a father of two, died.


— Elisha Fieldstadt