July 30, 2014 9:43 am

Man charged with killing Detroit referee faces key hearing

This undated photo released by Jim Bieniewicz shows his brother, soccer referee John Bieniewicz, 44, top left, with his family. Bieniewicz was attacked while officiating at an adult league game in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Mich., on Sunday, June 29, 2014. Bieniewicz lost consciousness and died Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at a hospital.

AP Photo/Jim Bieniewicz

LIVONIA, Mich. – A Detroit-area soccer player accused of killing a referee with a punch faces a key hearing on a second-degree murder charge.

Police and prosecutors say Bassel Saad struck John Bieniewicz June 29 as the 44-year-old referee announced his decision to eject Saad from a men’s league game.

READ MORE: 911 call from assault on Michigan soccer referee released

A hearing to determine whether to send the case to trial is scheduled for Wednesday in Livonia District Court.

Saad is a 36-year-old auto mechanic from Dearborn. He initially was charged with assault, but prosecutors amended the charge after Bieniewicz died.

Defence lawyer Ali Hammoud has said his client is “extremely remorseful,” but will have his day in court.

According to witnesses, Bieniewicz reached into his pocket and was in the process of pulling out a red card when he was struck.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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