The criminal case against the father of slain Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund could reach a conclusion on Sept. 16, when attorneys anticipate a potential plea deal.
During a brief court appearance on Friday, McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt set a tentative December trial for 61-year-old Andrew T. Freund Sr.
McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Randi Freese and Freund's appointed attorney, Henry Sugden, don't expect the case to go to trial, however.
"I believe we will be able to resolve this on Sept. 16," Freese told the judge.
If the case does make it to trial, it will begin Dec. 9 and could last about three days.
Sugden declined to comment on the details of any potential negotiated plea, which prosecutors had not yet formally offered as of Friday morning, he said.
"I'm still in discussions with the state," Sugden said.
Freund appeared in court Friday unshackled in an orange McHenry County Jail jumpsuit and a face mask. More than a year has passed since his April 24, 2019, arrest, when police have said Freund led investigators to the rural Woodstock site where he allegedly buried AJ in a shallow grave.
Both Freund and AJ's mother, 37-year-old JoAnn D. Cunningham, were charged with first-degree murder and a litany of felonies tied to their son's death. Investigators have said the parents forced AJ into a cold shower and beat him before putting him to bed naked, wet and cold the night of his April 15, 2019, death. Days later, the parents falsely reported AJ missing, igniting a massive police and community search.
Cunningham pleaded guilty in December to an amended count of first-degree murder, and in July, Wilbrandt sentenced her to 35 years in prison.
The sentence came as a disappointment to the boy's surviving family and McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally, who said they hoped Cunningham would receive the maximum 60-year sentence.
Freund remained at the McHenry County Jail Friday on a $5 million bond.