BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The retrial of a former Kern County sheriff’s deputy who killed two prostitutes in the 1980s ended in a mistrial Wednesday after jurors deadlocked on whether he should be resentenced to death, or to life without parole.
The jury hung 10-2 in favor of the death penalty for 76-year-old David Keith Rogers, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said.
The next hearing is scheduled for May 1. Between now and then, a decision will be made as to how to proceed, Kinzel said. The DA’s office could decide to retry Rogers again, or to accept the life sentence.
Rogers’ attorney, Assistant Public Defender Tanya Richard, said she’s grateful for the jury’s “measured verdict.”
“David Rogers has been incarcerated for over 35 years, separated and alienated from family, friends and former colleagues,” she said in an email. “He has paid a significant price for his crimes. The jury’s verdict is a reminder there is humanity in all of us, including David Rogers.”
In 1988, Rogers was convicted of killing Janine Benintende, 20, in 1986 and Tracie Clark, 15, a year later, shooting them multiple times then dumping their bodies in the Arvin-Edison canal. Clark was three months pregnant when killed.
He was sentenced to death.
The state Supreme Court in 2019 overturned Rogers’ death sentence after determining a prosecution witness whose testimony was used during the penalty phase falsely testified he sexually assaulted her. His murder convictions remain intact.
Prosecutors said Rogers’ crimes were so heinous, so callous, he deserved the death penalty.
The defense argued Rogers was remorseful, and has lived a pitiful, lonely existence in San Quentin State Prison for more than 30 years. Assistant Public Defender Tanya Richard said Rogers had a difficult upbringing and home life. He burst into tears when told one of his victims was a teen, Richard said, and wanted to kill himself as punishment for what he’d done.
The jury began deliberating March 7. The mistrial was declared Wednesday afternoon, Kinzel said.