Man convicted in soccer ref's death sentenced to 8-15 years

Bassel Saad pleaded guilty to manslaughter charge in John Bieniewicz's 2014 death

DETROIT – Bassel Saad, the man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for fatally assaulting a soccer referee during a game was sentenced to 8-15 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections by Judge Thomas Cameron Friday.

This sentence agreement was filed by Saad's attorneys and the prosecution. Saad was also instructed to pay the $9,265 restitution to the victim's family.

"For better or for worse, you've come to personify all that's wrong with many people's belief about the escalation of violence in sports," Cameron told Saad.

Cameron told Saad that his act destroyed many lives, including those of Saad's own family.

John Bieniewicz died July 1, 2014 after police say he was knocked unconscious during a game he officiated at Mies Park in Livonia.

A number of players testified that Saad had been issued a yellow card by Bieniewicz for a foul earlier in the match. Bieniewicz was about to issue Sadd a second one for being verbally abusive when the referee was struck.

"As he went into his pocket 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 in critical condition after the attack and died in the hospital two days later.

His widow Kris Bieniewicz gave a statement at Saad's sentencing Friday. After addressing Saad, she held up a red card in court.

Video from court: Slain ref's wife speaks at man's sentencing

"The final thing that I want to do is I would like to serve Mr. Saad with the red card that he was entitled to," she said.