The Crystal Lake father accused of killing his 5-year-old son, AJ Freund, appeared in McHenry County court Tuesday for a brief status hearing, which was captured live for the first time by news media.
News photographers and a TV cameraman were present in the courtroom for what marked McHenry County’s first case to be granted extended media coverage. Reporters will be allowed to photograph and video record each of Andrew Freund Sr.’s court appearances in the future, based on a December Illinois Supreme Court decision to approve extended media coverage at the McHenry County courthouse in Woodstock. News media’s requests to allow cameras in the courtroom will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by a judge.
Freund’s court appearance Tuesday was his first since AJ’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in December. A date for her sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Prosecutors haven’t extended any offers to Freund and they aren’t likely to, McHenry County First Assistant State’s Attorney Rita Gara said.
It’s unclear whether Cunningham would be asked to testify if Freund’s case goes to trial.
Both Freund and Cunningham were arrested April 24 after police discovered AJ’s body lying in a shallow grave in a rural area near Woodstock. Freund had falsely reported the boy missing six days earlier, launching police and neighbors into a massive search that lasted nearly a week. Cunningham and Freund were each charged with first-degree murder and other felony offenses tied to AJ’s death.
Freund is expected back in court Feb. 27 for a status update. As of Tuesday, prosecutors were in the process of going through previously issued subpoena returns for Freund’s medical records, among other requests.