JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas,
Kilbride, Garman, and Burke concurred in the judgment and
1 This appeal arises from the conviction of defendant, Eugene
Wright, of armed robbery with a firearm (720 ILCS
5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2010)) following a jury trial in the
circuit court of Cook County. Prior to being allowed to
represent himself, defendant was admonished by the circuit
court pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 401(a) (eff.
July 1, 1984) but was incorrectly informed of the potential
maximum sentence of the charged offense. The appellate court
reversed and remanded for a new trial based upon this
incorrect admonishment while affirming on all other grounds
addressed. 2015 IL App (1st) 123496, ¶ 86. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm in part and reverse in part
the appellate court's judgment.
3 Defendant and codefendant, Michael Morgan, were charged
with armed robbery with a firearm in connection with the
December 26, 2010, robbery of a Bakers Square restaurant at
7131 North Western Avenue in Chicago.
4 At the grand jury proceedings on August 15, 2011, Detective
Allen Lee testified that he investigated the robbery at the
restaurant. According to his testimony, defendant and
codefendant walked into the restaurant, and codefendant
announced a robbery. The two men exited after taking money
from the safe. Detective Lee testified that codefendant had
the handgun that was used in the crime, that codefendant had
time to dispose of the weapon before he was apprehended by
police, and that no weapon was recovered. Detective Lee also
testified that defendant was positively identified by one of
the victims of the robbery and by Chicago police officer Paul
Cirrincione, who had been staking out the restaurant. The
grand jury returned a true bill for armed robbery with a
5 On February 7, 2011, defendant was arraigned. He was
represented at the hearing by a public defender. Defendant
informed the court that he would not agree to continuances.
The public defender told the court that she would have to
withdraw as counsel, as she was not ready for trial. After
the public defender sought a continuance to order discovery,
defendant told the court that he wanted to hire his own
attorney, and the case was continued.
6 On February 24, 2011, defendant advised the court that he
had not retained his own counsel and indicated that he wished
to proceed pro se. The trial court informed him that
he had a right to an attorney, but the court would not
appoint counsel other than the one from the public
defender's office. The court also informed defendant that
he had the right to represent himself but that if he did so
he would be held to the same standards as an attorney. The
court admonished defendant that he was charged with armed
robbery in two different cases and that he could possibly be
sentenced to consecutive sentences with a range of 21 to 45
years in prison for each conviction. After the State informed the
court that defendant was eligible for a maximum sentence of
60 years in prison because of his criminal background, the
court admonished defendant that he could be eligible for an
extended-term sentence with a maximum term of 60 years'
imprisonment. Defendant reiterated that he wanted to proceed
7 On March 1, 2011, the trial court admonished defendant
again pursuant to Rule 401(a). The court informed defendant,
inter alia, that based upon his criminal history and
the use of a handgun during the offense, he faced concurrent
sentences of 21 to 60 years in prison on the charged
offenses. During questioning by the trial court, defendant
represented that he had completed two years of college and
had experience with the criminal justice system. The trial
court ultimately allowed defendant to proceed pro
8 On July 17, 2012, defendant's jury trial commenced.
9 Martin Perez, the manager of the Bakers Square restaurant
at 7131 North Western Avenue, testified that prior to the
robbery, he had received a few e-mails from his employer that
two black men, both about six feet tall, had robbed another
Bakers Square restaurant in the area. On December 26, 2010,
shortly before 11 p.m., Michael Morina, a waiter at the
restaurant, told Perez that someone wanted to place an order
to go. Perez went to the front of the restaurant and saw
codefendant. He was wearing a grey hoodie and a white hat.
Perez asked codefendant if he could help him. Codefendant
turned around and lifted his hoodie to reveal what
"looked like a black automatic, black gun" tucked
into the waistband of his pants. Codefendant informed him,
" '[t]his is a robbery; take me to the office.'
" Perez testified that he was sure the gun was an actual
firearm. He thought it was a semiautomatic pistol and related
that he had experience firing such guns.
10 Perez further testified that he observed defendant enter
the restaurant and approach the counter. Defendant was
wearing a black hoodie, blue jeans, and a black headband or
hat. Perez walked toward the office with codefendant behind
him. While he was walking, Perez "felt something sharp
in [his] back, " which he thought was a gun. Once in the
office, codefendant ordered Perez to open the safe and give
him the money inside. Perez complied and gave codefendant a
deposit bag marked "Bakers Square" as well as some
loose bills. Footage from a surveillance camera inside
Perez's office was shown to the jury. Perez identified
defendant on the video as the man who came into the office
after codefendant and grabbed rolls of coins from the safe.
11 Perez testified that after he gave codefendant the money,
codefendant told him to gather all of his employees. Perez
asked Morina, Tsehayens Tsegaye, a waitress, and Leo
Martinez, a cook, to come toward the kitchen. Codefendant
then told all of them to throw their cell phones into a
garbage can. He also demanded Morina's tip money, and
Morina complied. Codefendant ordered all of the employees
into the walk-in cooler and told them to wait there for five
minutes before exiting. Once inside, Perez pulled the alarm
located inside. About 15 minutes after the police arrived,
Perez was asked to look through the blinds of the restaurant
at two suspects standing in the parking lot. Perez positively
identified codefendant as the man with the gun. He also
positively identified defendant as the second offender.
12 Tsegaye and Morina testified consistently with Perez.
Tsegaye testified that when she asked codefendant why he
wanted her to throw her cell phone into the garbage, he told
her she was being robbed and lifted his shirt up to reveal
the handle of a gun in his waistband. She identified
codefendant as the man who had the gun but did not view the
second person at the show-up because she did not see his
face. Morina testified that he also observed the handle of
codefendant's gun. He had seen guns before and believed
it to be a "9 millimeter pistol." Morina identified
codefendant at the show-up. He testified that during the
robbery he also observed another individual in a black hooded
sweatshirt going toward the manager's office.
13 Officer Cirrincione testified that on December 26, 2010,
at 10:30 p.m., he and Officer Tracy Walczak started
conducting surveillance of the Bakers Square restaurant on
Western Avenue. They chose that time because a nearby Bakers
Square had recently been robbed close to closing. The
officers had been informed that the other robbery had been
carried out by two black males in their late twenties or
early thirties. The two men had been observed leaving that
location in a dark or black van with tinted windows.
14 Officer Cirrincione further testified that on December 26,
2010, he and his partner were in an unmarked vehicle
approximately 100 feet from one of the entrances to the
restaurant. Shortly before 11 p.m., he observed two men who
fit the general description of the subjects leave the
restaurant and walk quickly south on Western Avenue. The
officers followed the two men by car as they walked east onto
Estes Street. Officer Cirrincione asked them to approach the
car, and they fled on foot in different directions. The man
he identified as defendant was wearing blue jeans, a black
hoodie, and something covering part of his head. He ran east
on Estes Street while the man he identified as codefendant
ran southwest to a nearby mini-mall parking lot. Officer
Walczak got out of the car and chased codefendant on foot.
15 Officer Cirrincione testified that he drove the car around
the alley east of the mini-mall in an attempt to cut off
codefendant. At the beginning of the chase, he briefly lost
sight of codefendant. Officer Cirrincione eventually got out
of the car and chased codefendant on foot. While in pursuit,
he received a radio call that the Bakers Square restaurant
had been robbed. He continued the foot chase until
codefendant slipped in front of a house at 2322 West
Greenleaf Street. He and other officers were able to detain
codefendant there. A search of codefendant's person
revealed a night deposit bag labeled "Bakers Square,
" which contained a large bundle of cash. They also
discovered a separate large bundle of loose bills in his
pocket. The police searched the surrounding area, which was
covered by a large amount of snow. They were unable to locate
16 Sergeant Ken Lewandowski testified that after codefendant
was detained, he headed back toward the Bakers Square
restaurant. On Western Avenue, he noticed a black conversion
van with tinted windows, which was similar to the description
of the van used in the earlier robbery. He radioed for
officers to stop the van, and several responded.
17 Sergeant Lewandowski further testified that officers
brought defendant and codefendant to the restaurant to
conduct show-ups. Sergeant Lewandowski was inside with the
witnesses, who viewed the suspects through the blinds of the
restaurant while the suspects were in the parking lot. Perez,
Morina, and Tsegaye each individually identified codefendant
as one of the offenders. Perez also positively identified
defendant as the other offender. Morina and Tsegaye did not
view the show-up of defendant because they told police that
they did not get a good look at the second offender.
18 Chicago police officer Eric Killion testified that
defendant was the sole occupant of the van that was curbed by
police on Western Avenue. Defendant was wearing a black
hooded sweatshirt and jeans at the time he was apprehended.
Police searched the van and found four rolls of dimes and two
rolls of quarters by the front seat.
19 Detective Lee testified that on December 27, 2010, at
approximately 12:30 a.m., he went to the Bakers Square to
investigate the robbery. He viewed the surveillance video and
interviewed Perez. Detective Lee later viewed surveillance
photos of the suspects involved in the earlier robbery at the
Bakers Square restaurant at Harlem and Foster Avenues in
Chicago. He testified that he inspected the black van
defendant had been driving when stopped by police in this
case. He found a gray puffy vest on one of the passenger
seats that was similar to the one worn by one of the suspects
in the surveillance photos of the earlier Bakers Square
20 On cross-examination, defendant asked Detective Lee
whether he had testified before the grand jury that a weapon
had not been recovered. Detective Lee responded, "That
is correct. At that date it was not." He further
testified in response to a similar question by defendant,
"[o]n that date of the incident, no weapon was
recovered. A gun was subsequently recovered. When it was
recovered, it was undetermined if it was involved in this
case or not." After being allowed to review a Chicago
police evidence report that contained his detective notes, he
further testified that on January 2, 2011, a black Crossman
BB gun was observed by a citizen in the street in the
vicinity of where one of the suspects was running. Detective
Lee requested the BB gun be analyzed by the Illinois State
Police for fingerprints in order to possibly link it with one
of the two offenders in this case. He testified that no
suitable fingerprints were found on the BB gun and that it
could not be tied to this case.
21 Defendant showed Detective Lee photographs of a BB gun
that was discovered near Western Avenue and Estes Street.
Defendant moved to enter the photos into evidence. The trial
court asked if he knew who took the photos and when they were
taken. Defendant did not know. Detective Lee stated that he
had never seen the photos before. The trial court informed
defendant that he could not ask questions about them.
Defendant then moved to dismiss the case asserting that,
"the State violated the Brady Rule by not
submitting these pictures to me."
22 A sidebar conference ensued. The assistant State's
Attorney told the court that he had not seen the
photos. He further related that he had tendered to
defendant the Chicago police crime scene processing report,
which detailed that a BB gun had been discovered on January
2, 2011, within the vicinity of the restaurant. The report
also disclosed that the BB gun was submitted for fingerprints
but it had not yielded any suitable prints linking it to this
case. Defendant argued that in addition to a Brady
violation, the indictment should be dismissed because
Detective Lee had provided inaccurate testimony before the
grand jury when he testified that no weapon had been
23 In response to the assistant State's Attorney's
comment that there was no evidence that the BB gun was used
in the robbery, defendant was asked by the trial court to
make an offer of proof. Defendant responded that codefendant
told Detective Lee that he committed the robbery with a black
BB gun. Defendant acknowledged that the statement was hearsay
and that he needed "the actual person" to testify.
The State responded that if defendant was going to call
codefendant "to talk about the BB gun, he can call him
to see what he says, but he also gave a statement that he
committed this crime with this defendant so he is running a
risk." Defendant responded that he had "no
problem" with eliciting codefendant's statement. The
trial court denied defendant's motion to dismiss the
indictment based on a Brady violation. Similarly,
the trial court denied the motion to dismiss the indictment
based upon Detective Lee's purportedly false testimony
before the grand jury.
24 Following the sidebar conference, defendant continued his
cross-examination of Detective Lee, who testified that he
interviewed codefendant about the crime. When defendant asked
him about the conversation, the trial court sustained the
State's objection, stating, "[w]e are not going into
the statement, the nature of the conversation with
25 The State also presented evidence concerning the December
11, 2010, Bakers Square robbery. The jury was instructed to
consider this other-crimes evidence related to defendant only
for the purpose of identification and modus
26 Defendant testified on his own behalf and called
witnesses. He attempted to call codefendant, but codefendant
exercised his fifth amendment right not to testify.
27 Defendant testified that on December 26, 2010, he was
driving south on Western Avenue when police stopped his van
around Western Avenue and Pratt Boulevard. The police took
him to a nearby Bakers Square restaurant for a show-up. He
testified that in December 2010, he was living in Atlanta,
Georgia, but was staying with a friend at 6331 South Sangamon
Street in Chicago. He denied telling police that prior to
being stopped he had driven to 7300 North Bell Avenue to see
a women he had met online. He also denied committing either
Bakers Square robbery, knowing codefendant, or having rolls
of dimes or quarters in the van that was stopped by police.
28 Officer Walczak testified that she completed a case report
that represented that three complainants of the robbery and
another witness positively identified defendant at the
show-up. On further questioning, however, she acknowledged
that this was in error, as three complainants identified
codefendant but only one identified defendant.
29 Perez testified that he only saw the handle of the gun but
that he was "100% sure" that the weapon codefendant
displayed was an "actual firearm." Defendant showed
him a group exhibit of photos, which included a BB gun. Perez
said that the object in one of the photos looked like a gun.
He testified that it was unclear, however, whether the gun
looked like the type of gun used in the robbery because the
photo was blurry.
30 In rebuttal, Detective Lee testified that defendant told
him that prior to being stopped in the van, he had driven to
the north side of the city to meet a woman he had contacted
on a website. He told Detective Lee that he drove to 7312
North Bell Avenue to see the woman he met online but she had
given him a " 'bogus address.' "
31 At the jury instruction conference, the State asked for an
instruction on both armed robbery and the lesser included
offense of robbery because defendant had introduced evidence
of the BB gun that had been found a week after the robbery in
the vicinity of the restaurant. Defendant objected. The trial
court explained that the instruction would be given, over his
objection, because he "introduced evidence of a gun and
then argued that it was a BB gun." The trial court
noted, however, that "the [BB] gun in question has not
been tied to this case, it's not been identified by
anyone as being in the Bakers Square in the possession of
[codefendant] or anyone else; indeed it's not tied to any
person at all." The jury was tendered verdict forms for
both robbery and armed robbery.
32 The jury found defendant guilty of armed robbery. At
sentencing, the State informed the trial court that defendant
was eligible for a maximum sentence of 75 years but sought
the imposition of a 60-year sentence. The trial court sentenced
defendant to 50 years' imprisonment.
33 On appeal, defendant raised several issues. He asserted
that he was entitled to a new trial because the trial court
failed to properly admonish him under Rule 401(a) before
allowing him to waive his right to counsel. 2015 IL App (1st)
123496, ¶ 43. This argument was based on the fact that
he was incorrectly informed of the potential maximum sentence
for the charged offense. Id. ¶ 47. The
appellate court recognized that defendant had forfeited this
issue but held that the trial court did not substantially
comply with Rule 401(a) when it informed him that he was
eligible for an extended-term sentence up to 60 years in
prison for the charged offense, rather than the correct
maximum sentence of 75 years. Id. ¶¶ 44,
47. Based upon this error, the appellate court held that
defendant's waiver of counsel was unknowing and
involuntary. Id. ¶ 47. The appellate court
noted that defendant's case did not fall within any
exception where a deficiency in the admonishment had been
found not to prejudice a defendant. Id. ¶ 51.
34 The appellate court rejected the remaining issues raised
by defendant and found that because it was remanding on other
grounds it need not determine whether the trial judge's
failure to sua sponte provide the jury with the
instruction on the definition of a firearm was error.
Id. ¶¶ 41, 70, 78, 83. The appellate court
reversed defendant's conviction and remanded for further
proceedings. Id. ¶ 86.
35 This court allowed the State's petition for leave to
appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Jan. 1, 2015).
37 I. State's Appeal
38 The State contends that the appellate court erred by
concluding that the trial court's admonishments failed to
substantially comply with Rule 401(a) on the basis that
defendant was misinformed as to the maximum potential
sentence for armed robbery. The State asserts that the record
shows that defendant's waiver of his right to counsel was
made knowingly and voluntarily and the sole admonishment he
did not receive in no way prejudiced his rights.
39 The sixth amendment to the United States Constitution
(U.S. Const., amend VI) guarantees an accused in a criminal
proceeding both the right to the assistance of counsel and
the correlative right to proceed without counsel. Faretta
v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 832-34 (1975). This court
has long recognized that the right to self-representation is
"as basic and fundamental as [the] right to be
represented by counsel." (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) People v. Nelson, 47 Ill.2d 570, 574
(1971). An accused may therefore waive his constitutional
right to counsel as long as the waiver is voluntary, knowing,
and intelligent. People v. Haynes, 174 Ill.2d 204,
235 (1996) (citing Faretta, 422 U.S. at 835).
"Although a court may consider the decision unwise, a
defendant's knowing and intelligent election to represent
himself must be honored out of ' "that respect for
the individual which is the lifeblood of the law." '
" Id. (quoting People v. Silagy, 101
Ill.2d 147, 180 (1984), quoting Illinois v. Allen,
397 U.S. 337, 350-51 (1970)).
40 Illinois Supreme Court Rule 401(a) governs the trial
court's acceptance of an accused's waiver of counsel
in Illinois. That rule states:
"Any waiver of counsel shall be in open court. The court
shall not permit a waiver of counsel by a person accused of
an offense punishable by imprisonment without first, by
addressing the defendant personally in open court, informing
him of and determining that he understands the following:
(1) the nature of the charge;
(2) the minimum and maximum sentence prescribed by law,
including, when applicable, the penalty to which the
defendant may be subjected because of prior convictions or
consecutive sentences; and
(3) that he has a right to counsel and, if he is indigent, to
have counsel appointed for him by the court." Ill. S.Ct.
R. 401(a) (eff. July 1, 1984).
41 This court has recognized that compliance with Rule 401(a)
is required for an effective waiver of counsel.
Haynes, 174 Ill.2d at 236 (citing People v.
Baker, 94 Ill.2d 129, 137 (1983)). We have recognized
for 30 years that "[s]trict technical compliance with
Rule 401(a), however, is not always required. Rather,
substantial compliance will be sufficient to effectuate a
valid waiver if the record indicates that the waiver was made
knowingly and voluntarily, and the admonishment the defendant
received did not prejudice his rights." Id.
(citing People v. Coleman, 129 Ill.2d 321, 333
(1989), and People v. Johnson, 119 Ill.2d 119, 132
42 This court has considered the contours of substantial
compliance with Rule 401(a) in several cases. In
Coleman, relied upon by the State, the defendant
filed a motion prior to trial to proceed pro se.
Coleman, 129 Ill.2d at 331. The trial court
admonished the defendant of his right to counsel and, as an
indigent, his right to court-appointed counsel. Id.
The trial court further admonished him of the nature of the
charges against him and informed him that the maximum
sentence prescribed by law was the death penalty and the
minimum sentence prescribed by law was a 20-year term of
imprisonment. Id. In fact, the minimum sentence
possible was natural life imprisonment. Id. at 332.
43 The Coleman court held that the trial court had
substantially complied with Rule 401(a) in that it had
admonished the defendant of his right to counsel, informed
him of the nature of the charges against him, and explained
that the death penalty was the possible maximum sentence.
Id. at 333. In holding that the trial court
substantially complied with Rule 401(a), we stated:
"Where a defendant knows the nature of the charges
against him and understands that as a result of those charges
he may receive the death penalty, his knowledge and
understanding that he may be eligible to receive a lesser
sentence pales in comparison." Id. at 333-34.
In Coleman, the record established the defendant
knew that the minimum sentence was natural life imprisonment,
offered legitimate reasons for waiving his right to counsel,
and attempted to manipulate the proceedings by repeatedly
refusing the services of counsel. Id. at 340. We
therefore concluded that the defendant's waiver of
counsel, despite the incorrect admonishment of the minimum
sentence, was made knowingly and intelligently. Id.
44 Similarly, in Johnson, the trial court
incorrectly informed the defendant under Rule 401(a) that the
minimum sentence was a "number of years" when it
was actually natural life in prison. Johnson, 119
Ill.2d at 129. This court held that the admonishment the
defendant received substantially complied with the rule
despite this error. Id. at 132. We held that a
review of the entire record indicated that the
defendant's waiver of his right to counsel was made
knowingly and voluntarily and the sole admonishment that he
did not receive in no way prejudiced his rights. Id.
45 Thereafter, in Haynes, the defendant asserted
that the admonishments were insufficient to satisfy Rule
401(a) because the trial court neglected to include the
minimum and maximum sentences possible for a burglary charge.
Haynes, 174 Ill.2d at 242. This court held that the
information omitted from the admonishments did not invalidate
the defendant's waiver of counsel. Id. at 243.
As in Coleman and Johnson, the defendant
was fully aware of the range of sentences possible for the
most serious charge against him, first degree murder,
including the possibility of the death sentence. Id.
Given that, the importance of the defendant having specific
knowledge of the minimum and maximum sentences for the
significantly less serious charge of burglary paled in
comparison. Id. Consequently, we held that the trial
court's admonishments, despite the omission of the
sentences for burglary, substantially complied with Rule
46 This court further held in Haynes that the record
as a whole clearly showed that the defendant's decision
to waive counsel was made freely, knowingly, and
intelligently. Id. The defendant first expressed his
desire to represent himself at the outset of the proceedings
against him and reiterated that desire in open court on
several other occasions. Id. at 243-44. Further,
several examining doctors at the fitness hearing testified
that, during their meetings with the defendant, he was
adamant in his desire to represent himself. Id. at
244. Consequently, we held that there could be no doubt as to
the defendant's choice. Id. In addition,
testimony at the fitness hearing revealed that the defendant
expressed an understanding of the nature of the charges
against him, the role an attorney would play, and the fact
that the death penalty was a possible sentence. Id.
With regard to his right to appointed counsel, the defendant
was repeatedly advised of that right and, in fact, received
the assistance of appointed counsel for a period of time
prior to trial. Id. Therefore, in Haynes,
it was evident that the defendant understood that he was
entitled to legal representation. Id. We concluded
that the defendant's waiver of counsel was therefore
valid and that reversal for a new trial was not warranted.
47 In contrast, in People v. Campbell, this court
held there was no compliance, substantial or otherwise, with
Rule 401(a). People v. Campbell, 224 Ill.2d 80, 84
(2006). There, the defendant had been accused of an offense
punishable by imprisonment. Id. The trial court,
however, allowed him to proceed pro se without
making any attempt to inform him of the nature of the
charges, the range of possible penalties, or his right to
counsel. Id. We therefore concluded that his waiver
of counsel was invalid and his conviction could not stand.
Id. at 85.
48 In this case, the record reveals the following facts.
Defendant was arraigned on February 7, 2011. He asserted at
the hearing that he would not agree to continuances. The
public defender indicated that she would have to withdraw as
counsel, as she was not ready for trial. The trial court
continued the case for defendant to seek counsel. At the next
court date on February 24, 2011, before Judge Lauren Edidin,
defendant did not have an attorney. When the trial court
asked defendant how long his family indicated it might take
to find an attorney, defendant responded that he was
"not giving up [his] right to speedy trial at all."
The trial court passed the case to allow defendant to speak
to a public defender.
49 Afterward, the following colloquy occurred:
"THE COURT: Mr. Wright, I gave you some documents and
those documents-the offenses were purported to occur on
December 11th, 2010 and there is actually some other charges
as well, another case that occurred. Well, this says on
December 11th as well.
MR. CENAR [Assistant State's Attorney]: One is December
26th and one-it's the 26th on these.
THE COURT: What I gave you says the 26th.
THE DEFENDANT: It does.
THE COURT: Thank you. I have another copy that says the 11th.
They were actually both put in.
MR. CENAR: Very good.
THE COURT: So there are actually two cases and I don't
know if based on any information if that would be-would that