JUSTICE KILBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas,
Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and
1 In this appeal, we examine the propriety of a growing
practice in the appellate court of declining to consider
ineffective assistance of counsel claims on direct review. A
Coles County jury found defendant, Blackie Veach, guilty of
two counts of attempted murder and rejected defendant's
theory that someone else committed the crimes. On direct
review, defendant argued that his trial counsel was
ineffective for stipulating to the admission of recorded
statements of the State's witnesses. A majority of the
appellate court affirmed, holding that the record was
inadequate to resolve the issue. The majority encouraged
defendant to raise the issue in a postconviction petition.
2016 IL App (4th) 130888, ¶¶ 89, 92. We allowed
defendant's petition for leave to appeal pursuant to
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 315 (eff. Mar. 15, 2016).
2 We hold that the record in this case was sufficient for the
appellate court to consider defendant's ineffective
assistance of counsel claim on direct review and, therefore,
the appellate court erred in declining to consider the claim.
We reverse the judgment of the appellate court and remand the
cause to the appellate court for further review.
4 The issue in this case concerns defendant's claim that
his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by
stipulating to the admission of recorded statements of the
State's key witnesses, Johnny Price, Matthew Price, and
Renee Strohl. Accordingly, we limit the background of this
case to those witnesses and the facts necessary to an
understanding of defendant's claim.
5 Defendant was charged with the attempted murders of his
longtime friends, Matthew Price and Renee Strohl. He was also
charged with the lesser-included offenses of aggravated
battery. The charges arose from a December 12, 2012, incident
at Matthew and Renee's home in Charleston, when defendant
allegedly cut Matthew's and Renee's throats with a
6 At defendant's jury trial, Johnny Price, Matthew's
cousin, testified that on December 12, 2012, he went to
Matthew and Renee's house. While there, he and Matthew
drank alcohol and smoked synthetic marijuana. Renee also
7 Johnny testified that Matthew and Renee went into the
bathroom together. When they came out, they sat together.
Shortly thereafter, Johnny saw defendant cut Matthew's
throat with a knife, and then defendant cut Renee's
throat. Johnny ran from the house when Matthew pushed
defendant onto an adjacent mattress. Johnny thought defendant
was chasing him so he ran to a nearby Dairy Queen and called
his grandmother. The police came to the Dairy Queen and took
Johnny to the station where he gave a videotaped statement.
Johnny was impeached with a prior conviction for retail
8 Johnny's videotaped interview was admitted by
stipulation of the parties. The State offered no reason it
wanted to admit the videotape. Defense counsel wanted to use
portions of the videotape for impeachment and stated that by
using the videotape for impeachment, he understood he was
"going to open the door" to admitting the
"whole video." When the State moved to play the
entire recording, defense counsel responded, "The entire
interview?" The State responded, "I believe under
the doctrine of completeness the-everything needs to be
seen." Defense counsel responded that he had no
objection to admitting the videotape in its entirety as long
as the defense would be permitted "to call
9 The videotape was played for the jury in its entirety. In
that recording, Johnny described the attack six different
times, consistently implicating defendant. Johnny also stated
that defendant was involved in a street gang and had
previously threatened him. Various parts of Johnny's
videotaped statement, however, contradicted his trial
10 Matthew Price testified that he was in a two-year
relationship with Renee Strohl. He and Renee lived together,
and defendant, who had been Matthew's best friend, often
stayed with them. In the summer of 2012, Matthew heard that
defendant was having an affair with Renee, but Matthew did
not believe defendant "would do that."
11 Matthew further testified that on the day of the incident,
December 12, 2012, he and Renee were at their home with
Johnny and defendant. Matthew and Renee went into the
bathroom and had sex. When they came out of the bathroom,
defendant was standing at the bathroom door. Defendant
complained, saying that was "bogus." Matthew and
Renee sat back down together. Defendant then asked to speak
with Matthew on the back porch.
12 On the back porch, defendant said that he had to put a
"hit" on Renee because she had beaten up
defendant's friend, Debbie Davis. He told defendant to
"just let it go" because Renee had been charged
with an aggravated battery and because it was "just a
female fight." Defendant agreed to drop the issue.
13 Matthew and defendant then went back inside, and Matthew
sat next to Renee. Defendant sat behind them and began
talking to Matthew. Defendant next said: "You're not
my brother. You never had been." Matthew then felt
"warmness running down his neck." Matthew put his
hand up to his neck and felt his hand being cut. Matthew
yelled, "call 911." Matthew stood up and saw
defendant cutting Renee's neck with a knife. Matthew then
punched defendant in the face. Defendant dropped the knife
and fell back onto an adjacent bed. Matthew was going to
start hitting defendant, but Johnny ran between them and
knocked Matthew off balance. Johnny ran out the back door,
and defendant followed him.
14 Matthew gave an audio-recorded statement to police after
the incident. The parties stipulated to the admission of
Matthew's audio-recorded statement and to its publication
to the jury. It revealed inconsistencies between
Matthew's recorded account of the incident and his trial
testimony. In the recording, Matthew told four different
versions of defendant's alleged knife attack. Matthew
asserted that defendant's motive was retaliation for an
earlier fight between Renee and Debbie Davis. Matthew also
described defendant as "a real big alcoholic, and
that's all he does now is drink."
15 On cross-examination, Matthew acknowledged that less than
two weeks after the incident, on December 23, 2012, Renee
accused him of "cheating" and she "put her
hands on me [and] got me locked up for domestic."
Matthew denied holding a knife to Renee's throat. Matthew
also denied threatening to commit suicide using a knife but
admitted he had threatened suicide by hanging himself.
Matthew was impeached with three prior felony convictions.
16 Renee Strohl testified that she was in a relationship with
Matthew from March 2011 to February 2013. She and Matthew
lived together. In the summer of 2012, Matthew began
repeatedly accusing her of having an affair with defendant
and two other men. On several occasions, Matthew held a knife
on Renee and threatened to cut himself.
17 In early November 2012, Matthew forced Renee to fight
Debbie Davis by threatening Renee with a gun. After the
fight, Renee and defendant attempted to leave, but Matthew
told them that if they left or contacted the police ...