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JoAnn Cunningham, mother of AJ Freund, appears in McHenry County court

JoAnn Cunningham, 36, appears Thursday morning at the McHenry County courthouse for a hearing | Photo: Brian Hill / Daily Herald.

JoAnn Cunningham appeared in court Thursday morning for a status hearing. It was the first time she was seen publicly since being charged with the murder of her son, AJ Freund.

Cunningham, 36, appeared for approximately five minutes Thursday morning in front of McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt for a brief hearing.

During the hearing, Cunningham’s public defender told Judge Wilbrandt that they were not ready yet to schedule a sentencing hearing.

A status hearing has been scheduled for March 19, at which point a sentencing date is expected to be set.

The images captured Thursday of Cunningham, who looked drastically different from her mugshot released in April, was the first time the public had seen her since her and Andrew Freund Sr. were charged with first-degree murder.

Mugshot taken on April 24 of JoAnn Cunningham, 36.

Three days after AJ Freund’s death, Freund Sr. reported the 5-year-old missing on April 18. During a 911 call, Freund Sr. calmly told an emergency dispatcher that he last saw his son when he put him to bed around 9:30 p.m. April 17 at the family home on Dole Avenue in Crystal Lake.

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Freund Sr. and Cunningham were both charged with AJ’s murder on April 24 after an almost week-long search for the child. Police found the young boy’s body buried in a shallow grave in a field near Woodstock.

On December 5, Cunningham pleaded guilty to first-degree murder after initially pleading not guilty. She faces between 20 and 60 years in prison.

Freund Sr. is scheduled to appear in court again on February 27.


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