Shannon Kent sentenced to jail for unlawful cremation of a stillborn

Former Lake County coroner Shannon Kent, who also operated a Leadville funeral home, was sentenced Thursday to 180 days in jail for an unlawful cremation involving the remains of a stillborn child.

Kent, 47, was sentenced on two counts of unlawful acts — cremation, an unclassified misdemeanor, according to a Lake County District Attorney’s Office news release.

On Dec. 12 Kent pleaded guilty to the two counts, prosecutors said. The sentence for the two counts was ordered to run concurrently.

In December of 2019 the parents of the stillborn contacted Kent, of the Bailey-Kent Funeral Home at that time, about cremation services, the news release said.

A Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigation began after the parents complained, telling investigators that the cremains were “suspicious,” according to the DA’s office. Furthermore, the parents had not received proper or timely paperwork, including a death certificate, from Kent.

The cremains the parents received were in excess of a five-pound infant and scientific results showed that “…the cremation remains contain a ‘minimum of 2 individuals, a perinatal infant, and a larger individual. In addition, small bits of non-skeletal material consistent with jewelry fasteners, and surgical material were found…’ ” according to the release.

After an investigation by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), Kent surrendered his license to operate a funeral home or conduct funeral services effective Dec. 1, 2020.

In September 2021, a jury found Kent guilty of second-degree official misconduct, and he was sentenced to six months unsupervised probation. That charge stemmed from Kent sending his wife, Staci, to several death scenes in 2019 although she was not a deputy coroner at the time.

In June, a Clear Creek County jury found Kent and his wife not guilty of charges related to their handling of remains of a truck driver who died in a car accident in Park County in July 2020.

“While today brought about the close of Shannon Kent’s criminal cases, we recognize that the parents of this tragedy are still living with this open wound,” said Heidi McCollum, 5th Judicial District Attorney, in the release. “There are no words sufficient to capture the grief and anguish they have been put through from the loss of their son, and the complete lack of both respect and dignity they were shown by Shannon Kent.”

Lake and Clear Creek counties are in the 5th Judicial District. Kent was immediately remanded to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to begin his 180-day sentence.

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