CHICAGO (CBS) — A McHenry County judge has assigned a public defender to represent the mother of 5-year-old A.J. Freund against murder charges, but his father is seeking more time to decide if he also wants a public defender, or to hire his own attorney.
JoAnn Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, are accused of forcing A.J. to stand in a cold shower for an extended period of time, and then beating him to death on April 15. They reported him missing three days later, and after a six-day search, police found his body buried in a shallow grave, wrapped in plastic.
Both of A.J.’s parents are being held on $5 million bond, and at a hearing on Monday, both showed up in court without a public defender. Following a brief recess, Cunningham was assigned a public defender, after she told the judge the last time she worked was two years ago as a hair stylist.
Freund Sr. requested his hearing be continued, saying he wanted more time to decide on getting his own lawyer, or being assigned a public defender. The judge gave him until May 3 to decide, and scheduled a preliminary hearing for both parents for May 10.
Cunningham has been charged with five counts of murder, four counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated domestic battery, and one count of failure to report a missing child or child death.
Freund Sr. has been charged with five counts of murder, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated domestic battery, two counts of concealing a homicide, and one count of failure to report a missing child or child death.
After the hearing on their criminal charges, the parents were in court to determine if they can retain their parental rights for their youngest son, who is four years old. The state has filed a petition to terminate their parental rights
Their younger son was removed from their home after A.J. went missing and placed in foster care. They had gone to court seeking to regain custody before they were charged in A.J.’s death.
A public visitation to honor A.J. has been scheduled for Friday at the Davenport Funeral Home in Crystal Lake.
A GoFundme page set up by a family friend has raised more than $47,000 for A.J.’s burial and to support his younger brother.