Parents Plead Not Guilty in Beating Death of Illinois Boy, 5 - NBC 7 San Diego
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Parents Plead Not Guilty in Beating Death of Illinois Boy, 5

Joann Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. were each indicted on multiple counts by a grand jury on Thursday, McHenry County court records show

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Freund Parents Arraigned, Plead Not Guilty

    They stand accused of killing their 5-year-old son, and they pleaded not guilty in his murder. NBC 5's Michelle Relerford has the story. 

    (Published Friday, May 10, 2019)

    WARNING: This story contains disturbing details that may be difficult for some viewers to read.

    The Illinois mother and father charged with the beating death of their 5-year-old son Andrew "AJ" Freund pleaded not guilty Friday and requested jury trials. 

    Joann Cunningham, 36, and Andrew Freund Sr., 60, were each indicted on multiple counts by a grand jury on Thursday, McHenry County court records show. The charges are in connection with AJ's death, as well as two unspecified incidents in the months before.

    Both parents were indicted on 20 charges apiece, including first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a child, among others connected to AJ's death.

    Cunningham and Freund were also indicted on several counts related to incidents occurring on March 4, for which they were indicted on two counts of aggravated battery of a child and one count of aggravated domestic battery, and on Sept. 20, 2018, for which they were indicted on one count each of reckless conduct causing great bodily harm, unlawful restraint and a misdemeanor count of child endangerment.

    Freund was also indicted on an additional count of making a false complaint to 911. The judge on Friday granted a motion seeking a pyschological evaulation. 

    Cunningham and Freund Sr. were arrested and initially charged on Apr. 24, the same day police said they recovered the young boy's body wrapped in plastic and buried in a remote location in the northwest suburb of Woodstock, just miles from the Crystal Lake home where the two had reported the boy missing the week before.

    Freund Sr. called police on Apr. 18 to report AJ missing, telling a dispatcher that he and Cunningham last saw the boy while putting him to bed the night before and that they'd checked "closets, the basement, the garage, everywhere," in the house to no avail, according to the 911 call.

    LISTEN TO THE 911 AUDIO HERE

    But investigators quickly knocked down the possibility of a kidnapping, saying there were no signs that AJ had been forcibly removed from the home. 

    Police said both parents were questioned the following Tuesday and overnight into the morning of Apr. 24. After investigators confronted them with cell phone data evidence "both Joann and Andrew Sr. provided information that ultimately led to the recovery, what we believe is the recovery of deceased subject AJ," said Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black.

    Court records revealed that video police recovered from Cunningham's cell phone, showing AJ naked on a mattress and covered in bruises, prompted Freund Sr. to lead investigators to the boy's body. 

    On Apr. 25, the McHenry County Coroner's office identified the body found as AJ's and said the cause of death was "craniocerebral trauma as a consequence of multiple blunt force injuries."

    That same day, a judge set bail at $5 million each for Cunningham and Freund Sr. as the two appeared in court for separate bond hearings, in which prosecutors alleged that the two beat AJ and forced him into a cold shower for an extended period of time the night that he died.

    Both Cunningham and Freund Sr. were expected to appear in court for preliminary hearings on the indictments beginning at 9 a.m.