CHICAGO (CBS)– The attorney representing Andrew Freund in the murder of his 5-year-old son, A.J. Freund, told a McHenry County judge on Thursday he’s been engaged in “pretty serious negotiations” ever since A.J.’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, pleaded guilty in December.

Cunningham, 37, was sentenced to 35 years in prison nearly two weeks ago, seven months after pleading guilty to one count of murder.

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A.J.’s father has pleaded not guilty, but at a status hearing on Thursday, Special Public Defender Henry Sugden told McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt “the state and I have been engaged in pretty serious negotiations” ever since Cunningham’s plea.

It’s not the first time Freund’s attorney has said he is working on a possible plea deal. Last October, he said said they had started working toward a negotiated plea, and his client was willing to cooperate with prosecutors.

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A.J.’s parents were charged with a combined 61 counts in April 2019, including murder, aggravated battery, and concealing a homicide, after their son was found beaten to death and buried in a shallow grave in a field in Woodstock. An autopsy determined A.J. died of multiple blunt force injuries to his head.

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Police and prosecutors say A.J.’s parents forced him into a cold shower as punishment for soiling his clothes and severely beat him on April 15, 2019. His father later found him dead in his bed at their home in Crystal Lake and buried him in a shallow grave. A.J.’s parents falsely reported him missing three days later.

For days, the community prayed A.J. was alive. But police found A.J.’s body wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave in Woodstock on April 24 after his father led authorities to the shallow grave. His parents later were charged with A.J.’s death.


Andrew Freund has pleaded not guilty to charges against him, which include five counts of first degree murder. He has been found mentally competent to stand trail, but a trial date has not yet been scheduled.

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Freund is due back in court on Aug. 28.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff