Crime & Courts

JoAnn Cunningham given more time to hire attorney in forfeiture case

The parents accused of killing their 5-year-old son made a brief court appearance Thursday for a hearing on a mortgage lender’s attempt to foreclose on the Crystal Lake property where police believe AJ Freund was slain.

Correctional Emergency Response Team officers escorted JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund on Thursday into a McHenry County courtroom. With shackles on their wrists and ankles, the pair stood side by side for one of the first times since their April 24 arrest.

Cunningham cried as she told Judge Suzanne Mangiamele that she didn’t have money to hire a lawyer to represent her on the foreclosure matter.

“I can’t afford an attorney, and I can’t represent myself,” Cunningham said in court.

Freund, who previously worked as an attorney, has chosen to represent himself. Although public defenders have been assigned to each of their criminal cases, the same rights aren’t afforded to them in civil court.

Lenders Homes Sites LLC initially sought foreclosure of the property in July 2018. The mortgage and promissory note were sold in May, however, to real estate investor William Progar.

As of July 30, Cunningham and Freund owed $107,536 on the property, according to an affidavit filed Aug. 2 in McHenry County court.

Over attorney Jonathan Kaman’s objection, the matter was continued to 8:30 a.m. Aug. 20 to determine whether Cunningham will hire an attorney or represent herself.

“I’ll give you that opportunity, but I’m not going to prolong this,” Mangiamele told Cunningham. “It’s getting to be an older case.”

On July 10, the city of Crystal Lake additionally filed a complaint seeking to demolish the property, bringing its value to about $11,000, according to the complaint. Demolishing the home because of the mold inside would cost an estimated $17,000; alternatively, it would cost $103,290 to bring the home up to city code, according to one Crystal Lake construction company’s estimate.

It’s unclear how the city’s petition might affect the foreclosure hearings.

Both Freund and Cunningham face first-degree murder charges in connection with AJ’s death. They remained at the McHenry County Jail on Thursday afternoon, each on $5 million bond.

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