US soccer player charged in referee’s death
DETROIT (AP) — A U.S. soccer player accused of killing a referee with a punch to his neck was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder.
The charge against Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad was announced eight days after John Bieniewicz died from his injuries.
Bieniewicz, 44, was working as a referee at a men’s soccer game in Livonia, Michigan, on June 29 when Saad, faced with ejection, struck him with a punch, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
“This is especially tragic because it happened as the World Cup dominates our television screens,” Worthy said. “The alleged actions of this defendant cannot be tolerated and there must be action taken in our Legislature to make sure that there are stronger penalties when a referee is the victim during organized sport.”
Saad, 36, of the Detroit area, had been charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm before Bieniewicz died July 1. That charge will be dropped.
A message seeking comment was left for Saad’s attorney, Brian Berry.
Saad has been free on bond. He will appear again in court Thursday on the second-degree murder charge.