BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Jurors for the penalty phase retrial of a former Kern County deputy who killed two people in the 1980s will be asked to make themselves available for up to seven weeks.

Attorneys on Tuesday gauged it will take about six weeks for the retrial of David Keith Rogers, but Judge John W. Lua went with the higher estimation to help ensure there are no conflicts if the case runs longer.

Lua said he hopes to have a jury selected the first week of January and begin presenting evidence Jan. 9. Potential jurors will be told proceedings could last as long as Feb. 24.

The retrial will determine whether Rogers, 75, is again sentenced to death. The only other option is life without parole.

Rogers on Tuesday had gauze wrapped around his head holding in place a pad covering part of his left ear. Neither the judge nor attorneys made remarks about Rogers’ appearance while court was in session.

In 1988, Rogers was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of Janine Benintende, 20, and Tracie Clark, 15. Benintende was killed in early 1986 and Clark a year later. Both were shot multiple times.

In 2019, the California Supreme Court let the convictions stand but overturned the death sentence after determining a prosecution witness falsely testified Rogers had sexually assaulted her. The prosecution used the woman’s testimony during its closing argument in the penalty phase.

Hundreds of potential jurors are expected to be called starting next week, given a brief summary of the case and presented with a questionnaire. Although not discussed in-depth Tuesday, the document will have questions about crime prevention, advocacy groups, firearms and the criminal justice system.

In a discussion over autopsy photos the prosecution plans to display, Rogers’ attorney, Chief Assistant Public Defender Tanya Richard, argued some were overly gory, or irrelevant to the purposes of the retrial. Some revealed internal injuries Clark suffered from the rounds fired into her.

Another showed the 2 1/2-month fetus Clark was pregnant with at the time of her death.

Richard said the former deputy was never convicted or charged with killing a fetus. She argued the photo could prove distressing to the jury.

In response, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said the jury will be composed of adults, “and adults today know what a fetus looks like.” She said she doubts they’ll be shocked.

As to the other photos, she said, “I think it’s important to note the extreme internal injuries Clark suffered, what they did to her lung, liver and spine.”

Zimmer noted the bullets removed from Clark’s body were matched to a gun Rogers kept in the back of his camper truck.

Lua said he will make a decision Monday on whether to allow the photos into evidence. He’s planning to call a jury panel the next day.