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Trial set in fatal punching of referee in Michigan

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 7, 2014 at 11:30 am •  Published: August 7, 2014

DETROIT (AP) — A recreational soccer player accused in the one-punch killing of a referee who was about to eject him from a game in suburban Detroit is scheduled to stand trial in December, a judge said Thursday.

Bassel Saad, 36, is charged with second-degree murder.

Authorities say the auto mechanic from Dearborn punched 44-year-old John Bieniewicz on June 29, as Bieniewicz was preparing to red-card Saad in an adult recreational league game in Livonia. Prosecutors have described the punch as "very violent" and "thought-out."

Bieniewicz, 44, died two days later from blunt impact to the left side of his neck.

Saad's lawyer Ali Hammoud, has argued for a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, saying his client became "emotional" in a competitive game.

Saad made his first appearance in trial court Thursday, and a trial date was set for Dec. 8. A Sept. 12 motion hearing also was set, where Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway is expected to consider a defense request to lower Saad's bond to $150,000 from $1 million.

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