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Man pleads guilty to manslaughter charge in soccer ref's death

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DETROIT – Bassel Saad, the man charged with fatally assaulting a soccer referee during a game, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter Friday.

The manslaughter charge carries a sentence agreement of eight to 15 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

He will be sentenced before Judge Thomas Cameron on March 13 at 9 a.m.

John Bieniewicz died overnight on July 1 after police say he was knocked unconscious during a game he officiated at Mies Park in Livonia. He was in critical condition after the attack and died in the hospital early in the morning.

"As he went into his pockets to pull out his red card, he had his head down, and as he came up the guy punched him, hit him kind of in the neck and chin area and then the jaw. He was out cold," said Joe Cosenze, who was playing in the game. "Had he seen it coming he might have been able to get his arms up, but the guy took two or three steps and came right in. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen."

Bieniewicz was ejecting Saad when the alleged attack happened.

Read: Detroit City FC fans honor slain soccer referee with red card salute

Saad was charged with second-degree murder on Aug. 6. He was originally charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, but that lesser charge was later dismissed.