FRISCO — A former Colorado county coroner and his wife pled not guilty to charges of tampering with a human body Monday.

Shannon Kent, the former coroner for Lake County, and his wife, Staci Kent, were arrested in February after police said they found a badly decaying body in one of their private funeral homes in Silverthorne west of Denver, the Summit Daily News reported.

Authorities later identified the body as that of 42-year-old Victor Akubuo of California, who died in a car crash in July.

Akubuo’s family had retained the Kents’ funeral services in August 2020, according to a statement from the Park County Coroner’s Office, which took custody of the body following its discovery.

According to a tip to the district attorney’s office from an individual who hoped to purchase the funeral home, Shannon Kent said that he was meant to ship the body to Nigeria but couldn’t because of COVID-19 restrictions at the time.

Investigators found that the body was “obviously in various stages of decay.”

Police also discovered that the state Department of Regulatory Agencies barred Shannon Kent for life from operating any funerary services in Colorado after an investigation into unsanitary conditions at one of his funeral homes.

After his arrest in February, Shannon Kent formally resigned from his post as the Lake County Coroner in April.

The Kents both pled not guilty to charges of criminal attempt to commit tampering with a deceased human body and abuse of a corpse. Shannon Kent also pled not guilty to violation of bail bond conditions.

The couple’s joint five-day trial is set to begin Nov. 15.

The Associated Press