Dad waives jury trial in beating death of AJ Freund. Sentencing date set for AJ's mom.

  • Andrew Freund enters a McHenry County courtroom Thursday, when he waived his right to a jury and opted to have his trial decided by a judge. Freund is charged in the killing of his son, AJ Freund.

    Andrew Freund enters a McHenry County courtroom Thursday, when he waived his right to a jury and opted to have his trial decided by a judge. Freund is charged in the killing of his son, AJ Freund. Stacey Wescott/Pool/Chicago Tribune

  • JoAnn Cunningham enters a McHenry County courtroom Thursday for a status hearing before Judge Robert Wilbrandt. The judge set an April 30 sentencing date for Cunningham, who pleaded guilty last year to a first-degree murder charge stemming from the death of her son, AJ Freund.

    JoAnn Cunningham enters a McHenry County courtroom Thursday for a status hearing before Judge Robert Wilbrandt. The judge set an April 30 sentencing date for Cunningham, who pleaded guilty last year to a first-degree murder charge stemming from the death of her son, AJ Freund. Stacey Wescott/Pool/Chicago Tribune

  • JoAnn Cunningham stands with her attorney, Rick Behof, during an appearance Thursday in McHenry County court.

    JoAnn Cunningham stands with her attorney, Rick Behof, during an appearance Thursday in McHenry County court. Stacey Wescott/Pool/Chicago Tribune

  • Stacey Wescott/Pool/Chicago TribuneAndrew Freund stands with his attorney, Henry Sugden, during an appearance Thursday in McHenry County court.

    Stacey Wescott/Pool/Chicago TribuneAndrew Freund stands with his attorney, Henry Sugden, during an appearance Thursday in McHenry County court.

  • Andrew Freund leaves a McHenry County courtroom Thursday after he indicated he wants his trial on first-degree murder charges decided by a judge instead of a jury. He's charged in connection with the slaying of his son, AJ Freund.

    Andrew Freund leaves a McHenry County courtroom Thursday after he indicated he wants his trial on first-degree murder charges decided by a judge instead of a jury. He's charged in connection with the slaying of his son, AJ Freund. Stacey Wescott/Pool/Chicago Tribune

  • JoAnn Cunningham, left, and Andrew Freund Sr.

    JoAnn Cunningham, left, and Andrew Freund Sr. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 2/27/2020 3:04 PM

Andrew Freund Sr., accused in the beating death of his 5-year-old son, waived his right to a jury trial Thursday and asked to have his case decided solely by a judge.

Also on Thursday, a judge set April 30 as the date for the child's mother, JoAnn Cunningham, to be sentenced after she pleaded guilty in December to murdering AJ Freund in their Crystal Lake home. The boy was found buried in a shallow grave days after his parents reported him missing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Freund and Cunningham appeared in back-to-back hearings Thursday in McHenry County Circuit Court.

Court-appointed defense attorney Henry Sugden told Judge Robert Wilbrandt that Freund Sr., 61, wanted to waive a jury trial.

"Is this what you want to do?" Wilbrandt asked Freund, a former attorney. "Yes," Freund replied.

Freund Sr., is charged with three counts of first degree murder and several other felonies involving AJ's death, which occurred between April 15 and 17.

After the hearing, Sugden said a jury trial would have to have been held outside of McHenry County because of widespread publicity. He said issues in the case are legal, not factual, but did not elaborate.

"The issue in this case is not for a jury," he said. "The issue is for a judge."

Wilbrandt set April 24 as a trial status date for Freund.

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In a separate hearing, the judge scheduled sentencing for Cunningham, 36, who pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder in a deal with prosecutors in which several other charges were dropped.

She faces up to 60 years in prison and will have to serve the full sentence without the possibility of parole. A status date was set for March 19.

AJ's body was discovered on April 24, six days after he was reported missing. Freund Sr. and Cunningham were taken into custody and have remained in the McHenry County Jail on $5 million bail each.

According to court records, Freund blamed Cunningham for AJ's death. He told investigators Cunningham beat AJ on the head after forcing him to endure a 20-minute cold shower as punishment for hiding underwear he had soiled.

Also Thursday, prosecutors' motions in both cases for orders to keep Freund's medical records for treatment at the Mathers Clinic in Elgin out of the public record were granted.

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