A 36-year-old Detroit man named of Bassel Saad pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for killing recreational soccer referee John Bieniewicz with a “sucker punch” to the face last summer, according to The Detroit Free Press.
Saad was playing in the men’s league when he attacked Bieniewicz during match in Livonia, Michigan.
Two days after the episode, Bieniewicz, a father of two who worked at a hospital in Ann Arbor, passed away.
Saad was charged with second-degree murder at first, which could have resulted in life imprisonment, but a plea deal has altered his sentence, now in the range of eight to 15 years.
“This was something less than an attempt to kill. … Mr. Saad, he got up that day, and he determined that he was going to play soccer. He didn’t determine that he was going to kill someone on that particular day,” said defense lawyer Cyril Hall, who added his client is “very, very remorseful.”
Kris Bieniewicz, the referee’s wife, attended Friday’s hearing, but did not speak to reporters afterward.
She told The Associated Press earlier this week that she hoped Saad “never sees the light of day.”
“But is that realistic? No. I know it’s not realistic. But at the same point in time, I think my husband’s life is worth more than eight years.”
An auto mechanic by trade and father of three, Saad may not fit the mold of a cold-blooded murderer, but he did have fighting issues in the past.
Saad hit another soccer player in the head multiple times, based on the prior report from The Detroit Free Press, and was forced to serve five days community service and twelve months probation.
“He is very, very remorseful,” Hall said of Saad’s mental state. “He has been writing prayers out for several months. That’s all he does. He talks about the (Bieniewicz) family first.”