Case Update: Tentative Trial Date Set for Father of AJ Freund, but Plea Deal is Likely

Precious little AJ Freund.
(Chicago Tribune)

At a quick court hearing that took place at 9:00 this morning, a tentative trial date was set for 61-year-old Andrew Freund Sr., the father of murdered Illinois five-year-old AJ Freund. AJ’s body was found in a shallow grave near Woodstock, Illinois six days after his parents reported him missing, sparking a massive, multi-agency search effort.

AJ’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, accepted a plea deal and was sentenced in July to an extremely disappointing 35 years in prison. She was eligible for up to 60 years. Testimony at JoAnn’s hearing detailed how she beat AJ to death with a shower head, causing his brain to swell and herniate.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt set a tentative date of December 9 for Drew’s bench trial, which is anticipated to last about three days. However, the prosecution indicated a plea agreement is almost definitely in the works.

Andrew "Drew" Freund Sr in court
Drew in court on August 28, 2020.
(Daily Chronicle/Shaw Media)

“I believe we will be able to resolve this on September 16,” Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese told Judge Wilbrandt on Friday morning. 

Drew’s public defender, Henry Sugden, declined to comment on any details of a possible plea bargain, saying, “I’m still in discussions with the state.”

I fully expect Drew to get a much lighter sentence than JoAnn did, since JoAnn’s sentencing hearing revealed that she was the sole perpetrator of the active abuse against AJ up to and including the incident that caused his death. Drew was essentially the one who (allegedly) accepted or turned a blind eye to the abuse, and once AJ was dead, he is accused of burying his five-year-old son’s body, wrapped in plastic, in a shallow grave. 

Click here for my ongoing coverage of AJ’s case. You can listen to my podcast episode about AJ’s case here and my episode about JoAnn’s sentencing hearing here.

Sources: Daily Chronicle, CBS Chicago, McHenry County Court website

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