Former Lake County coroner sentenced to 180 days in jail in child cremation case
Shannon Kent, 47, was sentenced Thursday in Leadville to 180 days in jail on each of two misdemeanor counts of unlawful acts involving cremation. He will serve both 180-day sentences concurrently as ordered by the court. Kent plead guilty to the two charges on Dec. 12, 2022.
The sentencing stems from a December 2019 incident where the parents of a stillborn baby contacted the Bailey-Kent Funeral Home in Leadville after their child’s death. Shannon Kent owned the funeral home, and was also the Lake County Coroner at the time. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation after receiving complaints from the parents that they suspected the cremains of their baby son were suspicious, and that they had not received proper or timely legal paperwork (death certificate, etc.) from Kent.
The cremains they received were in excess of what a 5-pound infant would be, and scientific results showed “…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…’”
Defendant Kent was found guilty by a jury in 2021 of second degree official misconduct — for which he was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation. In June 2022, a Clear Creek County jury found Kent and his wife “not guilty” of charges related to their handling of the remains of a truck driver who died in a car accident in Park County in July 2020. After an investigation by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Kent surrendered his license to operate a funeral home or conduct funeral services effective Dec. 1, 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. 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,” said Heidi McCollum, 5th Judicial District Attorney, in a news release.
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During sentencing, Judge Catherine Cheroutes said that probation for Kent was not appropriate, in light of his past history as Lake County Coroner. She stated he became “entitled and arrogant” due to his positions, and noted that punishment was necessary at this time.
Kent was immediately remanded to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to begin his 180 days sentence in jail.