Wife of soccer ref killed by punch serves red card at sentencing

A weekend soccer player whose punch killed a referee has been sentenced to 8-15 years in prison. 

Bassel Saad pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. The 37-year-old admits to striking referee John Bieniewicz during a game last summer at a Livonia park as Bieniewicz prepared to issue Saad a second yellow card, ejecting him from the game. Bieniewicz died two days later.

It was an emotional day in court Friday as family members of John Bieniewicz spoke in his memory. John's sisters, his mother and his wife spoke. His wife, Kristen, spoke last.

"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, holding a red card up in the air. Saad could be seen bending down to wipe away tears on his shirt during the moments Kristen was speaking. 

VIDEO: You can rewatch the sentencing in the video player above. 
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"He died doing what he loved but his death was senseless. Meaningless," Kristen said. 

During the game in the summer of 2014, Bieniewicz issued the second yellow card to Saad, meaning he would be ejected. That's when Saad punched him. Two days later, Bieniewicz died.

"My brother was killed. Not by accident. not by illness but by the rage of another person," his sister said.

Saad spoke after hearing the messages from John's family, and said he wanted to apologize to everyone. 

"I think about him and his family every day, and I pray for him and his family every day," Saad said, wiping away tears. 

Judge Thomas Cameron told Saad he has ruined two families, both that of Bieniewicz and Saad's own family. 

"For better or for worse, you've come to personify all that's wrong with many people's belief about the escalation of violence in sports," Cameron added. He said Saad stood before the court for a "senseless" and "childish" act. 

Saad was also ordered to pay a restitution of $9,265.55, the cost of Bieniewicz's funeral. He received a 256 days credit for the time he has already served in prison. 

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