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John Bieniewicz of Westland Michigan was only doing his job as a referee when he was punched in the throat by 37-year-old soccer player Bassel Saad. According to witnesses as the exhibition game, Bieniewicz was getting ready to hand Saad a red card and eject him when out of nowhere, he was punched.
As reported by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, Bieniewicz passed away two days later from blunt force trauma. Saad of Dearborn Michigan is married and the father of two children. Prior to the incident, he had worked at Mott Children’s Hospital as a dialysis technician.
No one is really sure what angered Saad so much but last summer while playing a match in Livonia, he made a decision that would change two families forever. Bieniewicz was 44 years old, married, a father, and extremely close to his mother and three sisters.
Initially, the charge against Saad was second degree murder but following a plea deal, the charge was reduced to manslaughter. Saad has already been in jail for 256 days awaiting sentencing but this morning, Wayne County Circuit Judge Thomas Cameron ordered him to spend between 8 and 15 years in prison.
After the sentence was handed down, Bieniewicz’s wife Kristen gave Saad the red card on behalf of her deceased husband. In a statement, she said that no matter what people have heard in the media, she thinks of Saad as a cold-blooded murder. Rather than use a gun he used the only weapon he had, his hands.
She went on to call the murder senseless and childish. She stressed the hardest part of the ordeal was trying to explain to her son why the system failed. According to Kristen, she will never be able to give her son the answer he deserves. Her husband loved referring soccer and should have had the opportunity to continue the game.
Saad spoke directly to the Bieniewicz family after sentencing, saying that he thinks about the man he killed and his family on a daily basis. He also stated that he prays for them and felt sorry from the bottom of his heart for what happened.
Laura Meyer, the eldest of the three sisters talked about Bieniewicz’s life as a child and adult. While young, he loved Star Wars, Matchbox cars, and most of all, sports and as an adult, he was precious. In addition to prison time, Saad was ordered to pay $9,265 in restitution and an additional $1,000 in court fines and miscellaneous costs.