JoAnn Cunningham, 36, of Crystal Lake.

JoAnn Cunningham, the mother of 5-year-old Andrew Freund, has pleaded guilty Thursday morning to first-degree murder in the Crystal Lake boy’s beating death.

Cunningham, who has been held in the McHenry County Jail on a $5 million bond, pleaded guilty at the McHenry County courthouse in front of Judge Robert Wilbrandt.

She faces between 20 and 60 years in prison and must serve the entire sentence. Cunningham, who will not be eligible for parole, is scheduled to appear for a status hearing on January 30.

A sentencing date has not been set. Andrew Freund Sr., AJ’s father, also remains held in the McHenry County Jail on a $5 million bond.

Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, were both charged with first-degree murder on April 24 after an almost week-long search for their 5-year-old son Andrew Freund. Police found the young boy’s body buried in a shallow grave in a field near Woodstock.

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Prosecutors said that AJ was beaten and forced into a cold shower for an extended period of time before being put to bed. His parents reported the boy missing three days after police say he was killed.

At the time of his death, McHenry County Interim Coroner David Devane said that autopsy results showed AJ died after suffering from craniocerebral trauma, which is a brain injury.

Cunningham and Freund Sr. were both charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery, aggravated domestic battery and one count of failure to report a missing child or child death. Freund Sr. was also charged with concealment of a homicidal death.

The additional charges against Cunningham were dropped after she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Thursday morning.

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