Local

Attorneys discuss plea deal for Crystal Lake father accused of killing AJ Freund

A plea deal between the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office and the father of slain 5-year-old Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund could be on its way, the man's attorney said in court Thursday.

An unshackled Andrew T. Freund Sr. was escorted into a McHenry County courtroom Thursday, clad in the county jail's orange jumpsuit and a surgical face mask. Thursday marked Freund's first court appearance since AJ's mother, JoAnn D. Cunningham, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her part in the boy's death.

Freund's appointed attorney, Special Public Defender Henry Sugden, told McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt that he was having "pretty serious conversations" with prosecutors about reaching a potential negotiated plea. The attorney declined to say what 61-year-old Freund might be willing to plead guilty to or how much time he could receive.

Sugden said he hopes to have the terms of any possible plea bargain worked out by Freund's Aug. 28 court date.

Freund pleaded not guilty on May 10, 2019, to first-degree murder and other charges stemming from AJ's death.

Chief of the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office's Criminal Division Randi Freese declined to comment on the case while it is ongoing.

Prosecutors have previously said they were disappointed with the sentence that McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt issued Cunningham on July 17. The sentence also came as a disappointment to AJ's surviving family, who said they hoped the 37-year-old mother would receive the maximum 60-year sentence.

Sugden, who sat through Cunningham's two-day sentencing hearing, said details revealed through testimony and the woman's psychological evaluation helped bolster Freund's defense.

"She basically admitted that she did it," Sugden said after court Thursday. "If you read the psychological report, she didn't even know where he was when it happened."

Freund and Cunningham were arrested on April 24, 2019, nearly one week after the parents falsely reported AJ missing from their Crystal Lake home.

The report sparked a massive police and community search for the boy, which came to an end when Freund led investigators to AJ's burial site in rural Woodstock, court records show.

Both parents were charged with first-degree murder and a litany of felonies tied to AJ's death. Investigators have said the parents forced AJ into a cold shower before putting him to bed naked, wet and cold the night of his April 15, 2019, death.

Freund remained at the McHenry County Jail Thursday on a $5 million bond.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com and all Shaw Media Illinois content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.