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AJ Freund's younger brother 'doing wonderfully,' attorney says

Cars drive by a sign for AJ Freund outside of Davenport Funeral Home on Friday, May 3, 2019 in Crystal Lake.
Cars drive by a sign for AJ Freund outside of Davenport Funeral Home on Friday, May 3, 2019 in Crystal Lake.

The younger brother of slain 5-year-old AJ Freund is doing "wonderfully" in protective custody, an attorney representing the young boy said Thursday in court.

A hearing regarding abuse and neglect allegations at the Crystal Lake home where AJ lived with his younger brother and parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., was continued to June 24 while prosecutors await the results of a paternity test.

For the case to move forward, attorneys must first confirm that Freund is the young boy's biological father.

Although it was unclear Thursday whether investigators had yet collected Freund's DNA, attorneys hope to have paternity test results in by the June 24 court date, McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Julia Almeida said. Prosecutors additionally issued subpoenas for Illinois Department of Child and Family Services reports, which will also be turned over before the June hearing, Almeida said.

Crystal Lake attorney Jeanne Barrett has been appointed to represent AJ's younger brother during the juvenile court proceedings. Barrett declined to say who the boy is staying with while he is in protective custody, and said the child's privacy and safety are top priorities.

Before concluding matters Thursday, Judge Christopher Harmon asked Barrett how the young boy has been.

"He's doing great, judge," Barrett said.

DCFS removed the child from the home after Cunningham and Freund reported AJ missing on April 18. The child will remain in protective custody while the agency conducts an investigation into abuse and neglect claims. Details about the allegations have not been disclosed in open court.

Prosecutors are additionally seeking more permanent measures to terminate 60-year-old Freund’s and 36-year-old Cunningham’s parental rights.

If the parents are found unfit, their child could be moved to another home long term or placed for adoption, DCFS Deputy of Communications Jassen Strokosch has said. The process could take several months.

Prosecutors would need to file a separate petition to place Cunningham's unborn child in protective custody when he or she is born, attorneys have said. Cunningham was about seven months pregnant when she was arrested last month.

She and Freund remained at the McHenry County Jail Thursday on first-degree murder charges tied to AJ's death, which police have said occurred three days before the parents called 911.

For now, neither Cunningham nor Freund is allowed to have contact with AJ's younger brother.

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