US player sentenced to 8 years in prison for killing a referee

A Michigan soccer player who killed a referee with a single punch to the face was sentenced to eight to fifteen years in prison. Bassel Saad, 36, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter last month after admitting he struck John Bieniewicz during a game at a Livonia park. The 44-year-old referee was about to call a penalty that would have booted Saad, who already had a yellow card, from the match last summer when he was dealt the blow that would eventually kill him two days later.
Bieniewicz's widow Kris pulled out a red card as she spoke on the stand to symbolize her husband's last action before his untimely death, and said she will always see the act as murder. ‘Before I go the one 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 in her closing remarks. Bieniewicz previously told reporters that she hoped Saad 'never sees the light of day', and that she believed her husband's life was 'worth more than eight years'. Saad faced second-degree murder charges before he took a plea deal. He will be eligible for parole after eight years and his maximum punishment is 15 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay more than $9,200 for restitution and the father-of-two's funeral expenses, according to the Detroit News. Mrs. Bieniewicz said her only consolation was knowing that her husband died doing something he loved. Wayne County Judge Thomas Cameron told Saad during sentencing that his 'childish and senseless act' had destroyed both the Bieniewicz family's life - as well as his own. Saad, an auto mechanic and a native of Lebanon, has lived in the US legally for 15 years but is not a citizen. The father-of-three could face deportation after he serves his time. 
A number of players testified in court last year that Saad had been issued a yellow card, or an official warning, following a foul in the first half of the June 29 game. Bieniewicz was about to issue him a second yellow card for being verbally abusive. That's when the referee was struck, the players said. Saad's punch landed in the head and neck area, causing Bieniewicz to fall and stop breathing. Dr. Jamal Saleh said he rushed toward Bieniewicz, who was on his back grasping a yellow card in one hand and a red card in the other. A skirmish erupted between players following the attack. Saleh said he quickly checked on Bieniewicz and the referee initially was not breathing but had a pulse. Saleh said he performed CPR and told the unconscious Bieniewicz: 'Wake up, buddy. You're going to be OK.' Player Scott Herkes testified that Saad removed his jersey and left the field with another man as Bieniewicz was being tended to. Herkes said he followed the men into the parking lot and took down the license plate number of the vehicle in which they left. In 2005, Saad was involved in another assault on a soccer field. Court documents obtained by Detroit Free Press indicate that he repeatedly struck another player in the head. Saad pleaded no contest in that case and was sentenced to five days of community service and 12 months of probation. Mrs. Bieniewicz recently testified at Michigan's Capitol in support of proposed legislation that would make it a felony to assault a sports official in the state. Referees ‘are out there on an island with no one to defend them,' she said. 'Something more than a misdemeanor should be in place.'

Source: Daily Mail