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Attorney for AJ Freund’s father in ‘serious’ negotiations with prosecutors

61-year-old Andrew Freund Sr. appears in court during a status hearing Thursday. | Photo: WGN TV.

The attorney representing Andrew Freund in the murder of his 5-year-old son said that they are in ‘serious’ negotiations with prosecutors, hinting that a plea deal might be coming.

Andrew T. Freund Sr. appeared briefly Thursday morning in a McHenry County courtroom for a trial date status hearing.

Freund’s attorney, Special Public Defender Henry Sugden, asked McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt to continue the status hearing to August 28.

Sugden said that he was having serious conversations with prosecutors about reaching a potential plea. He did not specify any details of the negotiations.

On July 17, Wilbrandt sentenced AJ Freund’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, to 35 years in prison for first-degree murder.

Cunningham, 37, of Crystal Lake, will be required to serve 100% of the sentence and will have to serve three years of mandatory supervised release following her release from prison.

She pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder and faced between 20 and 60 years in prison. Andrew Freund Sr. pleaded not guilty.

During Cunningham’s sentencing hearing earlier this month, Dr. Mark Witeck, who is a forensic pathologist, described his findings during an autopsy on the boy on April 25, 2019.

Witeck said that the boy had abrasions and contusions covering his entire body. He had a swollen brain, which ultimately caused his death, and broken ribs.

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JoAnn Cunningham, 37, closes her eyes as video recordings are played during a sentencing hearing in Woodstock on Thursday, July 16, 2020. | Photo: John Starks / Daily Herald.

AJ’s brain was crushed into the skull to the point that it shut the rest of his body down, Witeck said.

AJ’s former foster mother said that AJ was “the most perfect little boy.”

McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally ended with a closing statement, saying that, “The real harm, the real injury caused by AJ’s death is limitless. AJ is irreplaceable. Nothing that we can do will bring him back.”

Kenneally said “this wasn’t a quiet, peaceful death” before describing how Cunningham beat the boy with a showerhead while screaming in the boy’s face.

“She hasn’t been sitting here crying for AJ, she has been sitting here crying for herself,” he said.

Cunningham read a prepared statement at the end of her sentencing hearing.

“I have vowed to take this tragedy that I created and help whoever I can possibly help. I am a child of God. I am a loving, kind, passionate woman who has feelings and loves deeply. I’m human,” she said.

“As I stand here with all the hurt and pain I caused, I beg for forgiveness. Ask for compassion, love and mercy. My heart and mind failed me and my loved ones, and unfortunately, I cannot go back and change that,” Cunningham added.


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