The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has promoted two employees to the positions of first assistant state’s attorney and chief of the criminal division.
Former McHenry County First Assistant State’s Attorney Rita Gara resigned from the office on Sept. 17, and her role will be filled by the former chief of the criminal division, Randi Freese, according to a news release. The first assistant is second in command to the McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.
Freese started her career with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2011. She was promoted to her chief of the criminal division in February 2019 and has prosecuted a variety of criminal cases, including murders, drug-induced homicides and sex offenses.
Freese was one of three attorneys who led the prosecutions against Crystal Lake parents JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. in the death of the former couple’s 5-year-old son, AJ Freund. Freese also assisted with the prosecution of three men charged in connection with a 2017 home invasion and murder in McHenry.
Starting as an intern while at DePaul University College of Law, Freese has served in all areas of the office, including on misdemeanor cases, drug asset forfeitures and felony cases, according to the release.
In 2012, Freese was awarded the domestic violence agency Turning Point’s Peace and Justice Award for her prosecution of domestic violence cases, according to the release.
In Freese’s stead, Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman will fill the role of chief of the criminal division. Newman recently joined the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, bringing with him 18 years of experience in Lake County, where he prosecuted first-degree murders, gang-related violent crimes and narcotics and sex crimes, according to the news release.
Newman is a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law. Since 2017, he has been an adjunct professor at the College of Lake County teaching criminal procedural law and criminal law.