AJ Freund

As Part of Plea Deal, Father of AJ Freund Pleads Guilty for 30-Year Sentence

An Illinois father charged in the death of his 5-year-old son, AJ Freund, pleaded guilty to several charges Friday and was sentenced to 30 years behind bars by a judge.

Andrew Freund Sr. appeared in court Friday afternoon, when prosecutors announced a plea deal for three separate charges, totaling 30 years.

Freund Sr., 61, has been jailed since April 26, 2019 for the death of AJ Freund, whose body was found in a shallow grave near the family’s Crystal Lake home that month, days after his parents reported him missing.

After a day of testimony in her sentencing hearing, JoAnn Cunningham stood before a judge and gave an emotional speech in which she said she misses AJ and her other children.

Freund Sr. had been charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty instead to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery of a child and concealment of a homicidal death.

He was sentenced to 11 years for aggravated battery of a child, 14 years for involuntary manslaughter and five years for concealment of a homicide, the judge ruled Friday. Those charges are set to be served consecutively, according to the ruling.

As part of the deal, Freund Sr. will get credit for time served in prison.

"Cases like this take place in a hell's ape," said prosecutor Patrick Keneally. "Sometimes to get information, you have to deal with demons."

The young boy’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder and was sentenced last month to 35 years in prison.

The two were charged after Freund Sr. led authorities to the boy's grave following his death.

Under the plea agreement, Freund Sr. also plans to cooperate in an investigation into the Department of Children and Family Services.

Within days of the boy's death, details emerged about what authorities said was the torture that the boy endured and the extensive contact he and his family had with child welfare workers.

Two welfare workers have since been charged in the case.

Charging documents filed with the McHenry County Circuit Clerk’s Office allege that Andrew Polovin and Carlos Acosta “knowingly caused or permitted (AJ) … to be placed in circumstances that endangered AJ’s life or health.” They’re also accused of recklessly performing an act that “caused great bodily harm or permanent disability” to a child.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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