Case Update: AJ Freund’s Father Reportedly Negotiating Plea Deal; Mother Moved Downstate to Serve 35 Year Sentence

AJ Freund
AJ Freund.
(CBS 2 Chicago)

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. 

Drew Freund wearing face mask in court
Drew Freund in court on July 30.
(Chicago Tribune)

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 Freund
Sweet baby AJ.
(Find A Grave)

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, 

One comment

  1. How can you kill your own flesh and blood? It is mind blowing on how these people call themselves parents. Real Parents don’t kill their children. They love and cherish their gifts from God Above. Children Are Gifts From Heaven. I have 5 Beautiful Grandchildren and I would hurt anyone who tries to hurt or kill them. My question is where were the grandparents in all this? Surely his grandparents should have done something. This makes me sick. Anyone that kills children has a very hot special hot place in Hell. And there is such a place. Prison is not enough for child killers. Aj I know you are with Jesus and I am sorry that you had those people who killed you that were supposed to Love You and take care of you. They failed you and so did The Department of Family and Children Services. They all should have to pay. And one day they will.

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