Attorneys say statements made by AJ Freund's mother could help father's defense
The Crystal Lake mother who pleaded guilty to killing her 5-year-old son, AJ Freund, made statements during a psychological evaluation that could be helpful to the boy's father's defense, prosecutors said.
Attorneys met Thursday morning for a brief status hearing on the criminal case against 37-year-old JoAnn D. Cunningham, who was not required to appear in court.
Over the objection of Cunningham's attorney, McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt granted prosecutors' request to share the possible exculpatory statements with the attorney who represents AJ's father, 61-year-old Andrew T. Freund Sr.
Those statements will be shielded from public viewing under a court order, Wilbrandt said.
Randi Freese, chief of the McHenry County state's attorney office's criminal division, said in court that she had an ethical obligation to turn over the information. Not doing so could be what is known as a Brady violation, which occurs when a prosecutor fails to disclose information that could be favorable to the defense. If a Brady violation were to occur, it could potentially be brought up on appeal after a conviction.
Cunningham and Freund both remain at the McHenry County jail.
The pair were arrested April 24, 2019, after a weeklong search for AJ. The morning of his arrest, Freund led investigators to AJ's body, which days earlier had been placed in a shallow grave near Woodstock, court records show. Authorities have said AJ died after being hit multiple times on the head.
Cunningham pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Dec. 5 and is scheduled for sentencing July 16.
Freund, who is charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a death, is due back in court June 18.