Former AJ Freund caseworker asks to be tried separately
The former Department of Child and Family Services case investigator charged in connection with the death AJ Freund is asking to have his case separated from his old supervisor's.
McHenry County Board member Carlos Acosta, 55, of Woodstock, and his former DCFS supervisor, Andrew Polovin, 49, of Island Lake, both are charged with child endangerment and reckless conduct related to their handling of AJ's case. The Crystal Lake 5-year-old was abused for most of his life before he was murdered in 2019 by his mother, JoAnn Cunningham.
Cunningham, 38, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is serving 35 years in prison.
AJ's father, Andrew T. Freund, 63, formerly a local attorney, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery of a child, involuntary manslaughter and concealment of a homicidal death. He is serving a 30-year prison sentence.
On Sept. 10, 2020, Acosta and Polovin were "jointly indicted," which requires they be tried together.
In the motion filed in McHenry County courthouse, Acosta is asking that his case be severed from Polovin's to ensure he receives a fair trial. He contends that if the two cases are tried together neither of them would receive a fair trial and each could be prejudiced against.
"If one of the co-defendants testifies on his own behalf, and the other chooses not to testify, the jury will likely draw negative inferences from one defendant's exercise of his privilege against self-incrimination because his codefendant testified," defense attorney Rebecca Lee wrote in a motion. "Such an inference renders the privilege meaningless and creates prejudice that the non-testifying defendant will be unable to have a fair trial."
The motion also notes that each defendant are witnesses in each other's case and each are calling in expert witnesses to testify about each other's positions with DCFS, which could be confusing to the jury.
Prosecutors are supposed to file their response to the motion this week and the matter is set to be argued Jan. 25, according to court documents.