Trial scheduled for ex-Lake County coroner, wife arrested after months-old remains found in former funeral home

Shannon and Staci Kent
Shannon and Staci Kent(5th Judicial District)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 12:57 PM MST
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UPDATE (Sept. 14): An ex-Colorado coroner has been found guilty on one of the numerous charges stemming from alleged misdeeds in the line of duty.

A jury found Shannon Kent, of Leadville, guilty of second-degree official misconduct for sending his wife to death scenes as a deputy coroner despite her lack of qualifications. The charge is a petty offense, and he was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation.

Kent’s legal woes are far from over, with several more serious charges still going through court system. Kent and wife Staci are accused of abuse of a corpse, tampering with a human body, and other crimes after law enforcement reported multiple discoveries of mishandled human remains. Their trial is scheduled for November.

Our original coverage on those allegations can be read below:


PREVIOUS (Feb. 22, 2021): The Lake County coroner and his wife are charged with tampering with a human body after decaying remains were found inside their former funeral home.

Coroner Shannon Kent and wife Staci were arrested in Leadville late last week after an occupied casket was discovered inside the now-defunct Kent-Bailey Funeral Home in Silverthorne. Authorities have identified the deceased as 42-year-old Victor Akubuo of Southern California, who was killed in tractor-trailer crash in late July 2020 and taken to the funeral home Aug. 11.

Coroner Kent was stripped of his license to operate funeral homes two months ago following a separate discovery of mishandled human remains, including an unrefrigerated body and cremated infant remains found mixed with metals and adult remains. According to our news partners at CBS Denver, investigators made an unannounced visit to Kent’s Leadville-based funeral home -- one of six Kent partially or outright owned -- and found themselves wading through pools of body fluid and stumbling past used medical gloves and body bags.

“I was beginning to feel sick, weak, light-headed,” Lake County Sheriff Amy Reyes wrote in a report, adding that she cut the search short due to smell of decay and concerns for the investigators’ health.

After losing his ability to conduct cremation or funeral home services in December, Kent’s Silverthorne funeral parlor sat empty until this month when the new tenant, Colorado Funeral Homes, moved in. Employees with Colorado Funeral Homes found Akubuo’s remains.

“This is a sad and disturbing case involving our community and a difficult investigation for our officers,” said Silverthorne Police Chief John Minor.

Kent was first elected coroner in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018. Prior to losing his funeral home and mortuary license last year, he was indicted in 2019 for allegedly sending his wife to death scenes as a deputy coroner despite her lack of certification.

At the time of his most recent arrest, he was still the county’s acting coroner.

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