JoAnn Cunningham transported to prison in Lincoln

  • JoAnn Cunningham

    JoAnn Cunningham

Updated 8/7/2020 1:00 PM

The Crystal Lake woman convicted of beating and killing her 5-year-old son AJ Freund, was transferred Thursday to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln to serve her 35-year prison sentence.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt sentenced JoAnn Cunningham on July 17, after a two-day hearing. Throughout the hearing, prosecutors played videos from Cunningham's phone, during which she can be heard berating and yelling at AJ.


Officials testified that AJ died from blunt force trauma, which prosecutors said occurred when Cunningham hit the boy repeatedly with a shower head. The mother of four pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Dec. 5.

AJ's father, Andrew Freund Sr., also faces first-degree murder and a slew of additional charges in connection with AJ's death. Freund's attorney, Special Public Defender Henry Sugden, said after a July 30 status hearing that he's been in talks with the McHenry County state's attorney's office about a possible plea deal.

Freund is due back in court Aug. 28.

Illinois Department of Corrections had temporarily limited the number of transfers it accepted in its facilities in light of COVID-19 concerns. Representatives with the IDOC could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the department's website, there have been 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff and inmates at the prison where Cunningham was sent. Eleven patients have recovered, according to the IDOC.

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