Drew Freund has pleaded not guilty.
On Thursday, July 30, Andrew Thomas Freund Sr., father of murdered Illinois five-year-old AJ Freund, appeared in court, where he entered his not guilty plea.
I recently covered AJ’s story for the second time on Suffer the Little Children Podcast after his mother, JoAnn Cunningham, was sentenced to a paltry 35 years in prison for AJ’s April 2019 murder. AJ’s was the first story I ever covered on this blog, and I featured him in the first episode of the podcast, as well.
At the July 30 court hearing, Drew’s attorney, Special Public Defender Henry Sugden, told Judge Robert Wilbrandt, “the state and I have been engaged in some “pretty serious negotiations” about a potential plea deal. Drew faces five counts of first-degree murder and several other charges in relation to his son’s death and the disposal of his body. He has been found mentally competent to stand trial.
Mr. Sugden said that Drew’s case was bolstered by JoAnn’s guilty plea and sentencing, which was also overseen by Judge Robert Wilbrandt, who gave JoAnn 35 years in prison even though prosecutors, including Patrick Kenneally, requested the maximum 60 year sentence for JoAnn and presented an extremely damning case against her.
“She basically admitted she did it,” said Mr. Sugden after the hearing. “If you read the psychological report, she didn’t even know where [Drew] was when [the murder] happened.”
Mr. Sugden could not give details on the terms of the possible agreement, but he expressed his hope to have the plea deal worked out by Drew’s next court date on August 28.
AJ died after his mother beat him savagely in a cold shower before putting him to bed, cold, wet, and naked. On April 18, 2019, Drew called 911 to report AJ missing, although he had already buried his son’s body several miles from the family’s Crystal Lake home. An autopsy revealed that AJ’s death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the head. Testimony given at JoAnn’s sentencing hearing by the medical examiner who performed the autopsy was gruesome, horrifying, and heartbreaking.
Drew is being held on $5 million bail in the McHenry County Jail.
Meanwhile, JoAnn Cunningham was transferred this week from McHenry County Jail to the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois, where she will be enjoying the next 35 years as a prisoner of the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of AJ’s case.
Sources: The Chicago Tribune, CBS Chicago,