We present a procedure for the optical coherent control of quantum bits within a quantum dot spin-exciton system, as a preliminary step to implementing a proposal by Yao, Liu, and Sham for deterministic spin-photon entanglement. The experiment proposed here utilizes a series of picosecond optical pulses from a single laser to coherently control a single self-assembled quantum dot in a magnetic field, creating the precursor state in 25 ps with a predicted fidelity of 0.991. If allowed to decay in an appropriate cavity, the ideal precursor superposition state would create maximum spin-photon entanglement. Numerical simulations using values typical of InAs quantum dots give a predicted entropy of entanglement of 0.929, largely limited by radiative decay and electron spin flips. © 2013 American Physical Society.