Lessons from Mom

When it comes to personal standards, everyone reaches the point where you have to draw a line.

For Sergio Lopez, 27, that point was Tuesday in Philadelphia Municipal Court when he was called as a prosecution witness to testify at the preliminary hearing for Jason Benedict, 34, and Edward Bercerril, 44. Both were ordered held for trial on murder charges in the April 24 stabbing of Ronald Thompson, 37, inside Thompson’s house in the 2400 block of Boston Street in Kensington.

Lopez, an admitted long-time drug user, testified that he was a friend of Bercerril. On April 24, Lopez said, Bercerril and Benedict, who Lopez said he did not know, told him they went to collect a $100 drug debt from Thompson. The two men returned later to Lopez’s place at Third Street and Indiana Avenue with a computer tower and flat-screen television. Lopez said Bercerril told him he “thought I might have killed someone.”

Then came the moment when Assistant District Attorney Brendan O’Malley asked Lopez if he recognized anyone in the courtroom.

“Yes,” replied Lopez.

“Please point him out,” said O’Malley.

“No,” said Lopez.

O’Malley, fearing his key witness might be about to go south and recant his earlier statement, asked why.

“He’s wearing a red shirt,” said Lopez, referring to Bercerril. “Look, it’s bad manners to point at someone. But that’s my homeboy.”

If Lopez’s remembered his Mom’s etiquette lesson about pointing, he seems to have forgotten another.

Among his open charges, Lopez told O’Malley: public urination.