Judge may give prosecutors medical records for AJ's mom
A McHenry County judge may allow prosecutors access to JoAnn Cunningham's medical records from when she was taken to a hospital for treatment while jailed on charges of killing her son, AJ Freund.
Prosecutors had asked the physician/patient privilege be waived to access records from the McHenry County jail and an unspecified Northwestern Hospital location, contending information regarding Cunningham's use of illicit or prescription drugs could relate to the April beating death of 5-year old AJ at their Crystal Lake home.
Cunningham, who appeared before Judge Robert Wilbrandt Thursday, and the boy's father, Andrew Freund Sr., are charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and other offenses in connection with AJ's death.
Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney Randi Freese contended in court filings that the law allows an exception to doctor/patient privilege in homicide cases "when disclosure relates directly to the fact or immediate circumstances of the homicide."
"Evidence of drug use could be relevant," Freese said in court.
Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos argued that prosecutors aren't seeking specific records but instead "clearly speculating" that a link to the murder exists. He called the request "overly broad, speculative, an invasion of (Cunningham's) privacy and purely a fishing expedition by the prosecution."
Wilbrandt said he believes the records could be allowed during court proceedings if relevant. He'll examine the information and make a determination.
"We don't know what's in them," Freese said after the hearing. "If there's nothing in them, then (the judge is) not going to give it to us."
Wilbrandt set Cunningham's next court date for Oct. 17.
Prosecutors also have subpoenaed medical treatment records for AJ from Northwestern Medicine Centegra Physician Care Woodstock; Northwestern Medicine on Dec. 18, 2018; and notes and records from nurses and social workers from Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park when AJ and his younger brother visited Cunningham there.
According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, AJ was treated Dec. 18 for a large bruise on his hip and reportedly told an emergency room physician, "Maybe Mommy didn't mean to hurt me."
Freese said she couldn't comment on any subpoenaed records that may have been received.
Authorities have said AJ died after being hit multiple times on the head April 15, three days before his father, Andrew Freund, called 911 to report him missing. AJ's body was recovered from a shallow grave near Woodstock six days later.
The parents also are charged with aggravated battery, domestic battery and failure to report a missing child or child death. Each is being held on $5 million bail.