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The charges against the man who punched a Michigan referee in the head last month were changed to second-degree murder Wednesday, according to a statement from the Wayne County prosecutor's office. Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, had been charged on June 30 with intent to do great bodily harm to 44-year-old soccer referee John Bieniewicz.

According to the prosecution, Saad punched Bieniewicz in the head and knocked him unconscious when Bieniewicz decided to take him out of the adult-league game in Livonia, Michigan. The referee died overnight at the hospital as a result of his injuries. His death was ruled a homicide.

"The alleged actions of this defendant cannot be tolerated and there must be action taken in our legislature to make sure that there are stronger penalties when a referee is the victim during organized sport," prosecutor Kym L. Worthy said in a statement. Saad is expected to be arraigned on the amended charges on July 10.



—Becky Bratu