Graphic images won't be publicized at AJ Freund's mom's sentencing Thursday

  • JoAnn Cunningham appears in court last January.

      JoAnn Cunningham appears in court last January. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Updated 7/14/2020 4:13 PM

Extended media coverage of autopsy photos and other graphic evidence involving the murder of 5-year-old AJ Freund will not be allowed at his mother's sentencing hearing Thursday.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt on Tuesday agreed with the prosecutor's objection to allowing five photos or videos to be photographed or shown on television as part of the media coverage of the sentencing.


Wilbrandt, during Tuesday's hearing on pending motions before the sentencing, delayed a decision about photos of AJ displaying bruises.

Prosecutors argued the photos showed AJ's siblings or contained graphic images that shouldn't be publicized. Wilbrandt said he had to balance the deleterious effect of the images versus the public's right to know.

Wilbrandt previously ruled that the living arrangements of Cunningham's two other children not be publicized. A decision on an objection by Cunningham's mother to extended media is pending.

Also Tuesday, Angelo Mourelatos, a public defender representing Cunningham, was allowed to enter substance abuse and other reports into evidence in her defense.

AJ's body was discovered April 24, six days after he was reported missing from his Crystal Lake home. Cunningham and his father, Andrew Freund Sr., each were charged with first-degree murder in his beating death and have been held on $5 million bail in the McHenry County jail.

Freund Sr. has pleaded not guilty and waived a jury trial. A status hearing on a trial date is scheduled for July 30.

Cunningham plead guilty to one count of first-degree murder and faces up to 60 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

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