Former Silverthorne funeral home owner pleads guilty to misdemeanor charges in Lake County case stemming from mixing of cremated remains
Shannon Kent's guilty plea is the latest development in a string of criminal cases he and his wife have faced in recent years related to their funeral home operations and his time as Lake County coroner.
A former funeral home owner has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the cremation of a still-born baby that became mixed with other human remains.
Shannon Kent, 47, of Leadville, pleaded guilty Dec. 22 in a Lake County court to two counts of unlawful acts of cremation, both misdemeanors, according to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Each count is punishable by up to two years in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. Kent is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 2 at 9 a.m.
As part of the plea deal, the District Attorney’s Office has dismissed the 12 additional charges Kent faced. The dismissed charges included five counts of abuse of a corpse, four of which were Class 6 felonies and one of which was a misdemeanor.
In February 2020, a woman contacted law enforcement about issues with the funeral home run by Kent and his wife, which she had hired to cremate her still-born son, according to an affidavit in support of a search warrant filed in the case. The woman said she faced communication issues and delays before receiving ashes in excess of what she would expect for a 5 pound baby, the documents state.
The cremated remains, which weighed over a pound, were delivered to the woman’s home with no death certificate, chain of custody, or evidence of whose remains they were, according to the affidavit. When the woman and her partner contacted Kent and his wife, they denied the ashes were anyone else’s, the court documents state.
A scientific analysis later showed “the cremation remains contain a minimum of 2 individuals, a perinatal infant, and a larger individual. In addition to bits of non-skeletal material consistent with jewelry fasteners, and surgical materials,” according to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Shannon Kent’s wife, Staci Kent, also faces charges stemming from the cremated remains of the still-born baby. She has pleaded not guilty to the three misdemeanor charges related to abuse of a corpse and is scheduled for a pretrial readiness conference on Jan. 12, according to court documents.
Prior to facing criminal charges, Shannon Kent served as Lake County Coroner. His guilty plea comes after a Clear Creek County jury last summer found Shannon Kent and his wife, Staci Kent, not guilty of charges including felony counts of abuse of a corpse and tampering with a deceased human body. That case had to do with the body of a Nigerian man that police said had become badly decomposed after being left for months at the Kents’ funeral home in Silverthorne.
Another case involving Shannon Kent concluded in 2021, when a jury found him guilty of second-degree official misconduct, a petty offense, and was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation. That case stemmed from Shannon Kent sending his wife to several death scenes in 2019, according to contemporaneous reporting. He was acquitted of a perjury charge, a Class 4 felony, in that trial.
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