Homicide

Widow displays red card as soccer player gets prison for killing Detroit-area ref with punch

  • FILE- This undated file photo provided by the Livonia Police Department shows Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad. Saad, a Detroit-area soccer player who police say killed a referee by punching him during a match in June 29, 2014.  Referee John Bieniewicz, 44, was killed by the blow from Saad, leaving behind his wife and two sons. The 36-year-old Saad pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and will be sentenced Friday, March 13, 2015, to up to 15 years in prison. The incident is prompting legislators to consider making Michigan the 20th state with a criminal law that targets assaults on sports officials. Bills pending in the Senate would bring longer jail or prison sentences in such incidents. (AP Photo/Livonia Police Department, File)

    FILE- This undated file photo provided by the Livonia Police Department shows Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad. Saad, a Detroit-area soccer player who police say killed a referee by punching him during a match in June 29, 2014. Referee John Bieniewicz, 44, was killed by the blow from Saad, leaving behind his wife and two sons. The 36-year-old Saad pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and will be sentenced Friday, March 13, 2015, to up to 15 years in prison. The incident is prompting legislators to consider making Michigan the 20th state with a criminal law that targets assaults on sports officials. Bills pending in the Senate would bring longer jail or prison sentences in such incidents. (AP Photo/Livonia Police Department, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Jon Bieniewicz's widow, Kris Bieniewicz, addresses the court as she gives the last victim's impact statement and holds up a soccer "red flag' in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cameron on Friday, March 13, 2015 in Detroit.  Bassel Saad  was sentenced to at least eight years in prison for a punch that killed  Bieniewicz, a Detroit-area referee.  (AP Photo/Detroit News, Todd McInturf)  DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT

    Jon Bieniewicz's widow, Kris Bieniewicz, addresses the court as she gives the last victim's impact statement and holds up a soccer "red flag' in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cameron on Friday, March 13, 2015 in Detroit. Bassel Saad was sentenced to at least eight years in prison for a punch that killed Bieniewicz, a Detroit-area referee. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Todd McInturf) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • A Wayne County deputy directs Bassel Saad, left, into the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cameron on Friday, March 13, 2015 in Detroit.  Saad  was sentenced to at least eight years in prison for a punch that killed John Bieniewicz, a Detroit-area referee.  (AP Photo/Detroit News, Todd McInturf)  DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT

    A Wayne County deputy directs Bassel Saad, left, into the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cameron on Friday, March 13, 2015 in Detroit. Saad was sentenced to at least eight years in prison for a punch that killed John Bieniewicz, a Detroit-area referee. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Todd McInturf) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT  (The Associated Press)

A weekend soccer player in the Detroit area whose punch killed a referee has been sentenced to at least eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

The case against Bassel Saad has put a spotlight on out-of-control recreational athletes and inspired Michigan lawmakers to consider new crimes for assaults on sports referees.

Saad, a Dearborn auto mechanic, admits striking referee John Bieniewicz (BEN'-uh-wits) during a game last summer at a Livonia park. Bieniewicz was preparing to call a penalty that would have ejected Saad from the game.

In a dramatic moment, Bieniewicz' wife, Kris Bieniewicz, held up a red card in court Friday, signaling the ejection. Saad expressed remorse.

He will be eligible for parole after eight years. His maximum punishment is 15 years in prison.