Illinois man Andrew T. Freund Sr., 61, is expected to take a plea deal in a hearing Friday. Court is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. CT.
Both sides were reserved with details in a very brief appearance on Wednesday, and but they were clear that there was a “negotiation.”
Freund is charged with murder in the 2019 death of his son AJ Freund. The defendant allegedly told investigators the boy’s mother JoAnn Cunningham, 37, beat the child and forced him into a cold show to make him admit to soiling his underwear. AJ was found dead in bed the next day. Instead of reporting it, however, his father moved the body out of their home in Crystal Lake and buried those remains in a shallow grave about seven miles away in the town of Woodstock, Illinois.
The beating and the forced showed is said to have happened April 14, 2019, but Freund Sr. only called call 911 to report his son missing on April 18. He feigned ignorance regarding his son’s whereabouts.
Cunningham pleaded guilty to murder, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. In a statement, she blamed drugs and a miserable life.
“Nobody will ever understand unless they’ve walked in my shoes or know the torment I’ve suffered,” she said at the hearing. “And I will try to rise above human scorn and judgment. I never thought of my own well-being and even if I did, I couldn’t help myself. I was mentally unavailable even to myself. Unfortunately, I managed to dispel my anxiety, depression and pain with drugs.”
Judge Robert Wilbrandt minced no words about AJ’s passing, however: “It was a horrible death, preceded by a horrible life.”
In June, McHenry County prosecutors shared information from Cunningham’s psych evaluation that was possibly exculpatory for Freund Sr.
Whatever happens on Friday, it would not be the end of the case. Two men–former child welfare workers Carlos J. Acosta, 54, and his supervisor Andrew R. Polovin, 48–were both charged with reckless conduct, and endangering the life of a child. Freund Jr’s family was in contact with authorities quite a bit in the years leading to his death, and these two defendants are accused of mishandling his case.
[Mugshot via Crystal Lake Police Department]
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