Hearing delayed for man in ref death
Detroit — A final conference hearing for a recreational Dearborn soccer player who allegedly killed a referee with one punch was delayed Friday.
The hearing for Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad before Third Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway was scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday. The hearing will now take place Thursday after the judge felt there wasn't proper notice that the media would be attending the hearing.
Hathaway in August set a Dec. 8 trial date and entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of Saad, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of referee John Bieniewicz, 44.
Witnesses and police say Saad punched the referee on June 29 after the soccer official issued him a red card, effectively ejecting him from the game at Mies Park on West Chicago in Livonia.
Bieniewicz died two days after the assault in Detroit Receiving Hospital.
At the August hearing, defense attorney Ali Hammoud asked Hathaway for a change of venue for the trial to counteract extensive media coverage.
"I have no problem with (the media) whatsoever, but the defendant is entitled to his 6th Amendment right to a fair and impartial case," Hammoud said in August. "But with the media, I don't know if we're going to get that.
"There has been some misinformation that has been in the media that has not come out in the preliminary examination, and it's going to hurt my client."
Hathaway said her experience over the years has shown jurors take trials seriously regardless of the publicity.
"This courtroom has tried a number of high-profile media cases," Hathaway said. "There's always apprehension initially that either the prosecution or defense won't get a fair trial because of the extensive media coverage. I haven't found that ultimately to be the case."
Hammoud also has asked for bond to be lowered from $1 million to $150,000 cash surety. Wayne County assistant prosecutor Erika Tusar has argued there is reason to believe Saad might not return for future court dates based on his history.
"He has a history of failing to appear for the minor stuff," Tusar said. "We have a concern, and now this is a much more serious case, that he will not appear for the more serious stuff."