Ex-Kern deputy’s penalty phase retrial for 1980s murders postponed to January

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The retrial of the penalty phase for former Kern deputy David Keith Rogers, who killed a woman and a teen in the 1980s, has been postponed to early next year.

Rogers’ defense counsel requested the postponement to meet with prosecutors and review the evidence they plan to introduce at trial. Prosecutor Eric Smith said it will take a day to accomplish that.

The trial had been scheduled for Oct. 18 but was moved to Jan. 24.

Prosecutors are again seeking death for Rogers, 74, whose death sentence was overturned in 2019 after the state Supreme Court found a prosecution witness falsely testified he had sexually assaulted her. The prosecution used the woman’s testimony during its closing argument in the penalty phase.

His convictions on two counts of first-degree murder remain intact.

Rogers was sentenced in 1988 for killing Janine Benintende, 20, and Tracie Clark, 15. He shot Benintende in early 1986, and Clark a year later.

Rogers worked for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office at the time.

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