Man accused of hitting, killing police officer due in court

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The man accused of hitting and killing a Phoenix police officer during a traffic stop is due back in court Friday morning.

Jesus Molina, 24, is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing. He's facing a manslaughter charge in the hit-and-run death of Officer Daryl Raetz.

Raetz was wrapping up a DUI stop in West Phoenix on May 19 when an SUV hit and killed him. The driver fled the scene.

Investigators later found the vehicle that hit Raetz, and eventually arrested Molina, the registered owner of the SUV, on drug charges. According to court documents, he admitted drinking and doing cocaine just hours before the deadly crash.

While court paperwork stated that Molina was "a suspect in a fatal hit and run which resulted in the death of a police officer," he was only facing drug charges when he was arrested in May. It was several days before Molina was charged in connection with Raetz's death.

Investigators say they matched pieces of the vehicle from the crime scene with parts missing from Molina's SUV. In addition, DNA collected from the undercarriage of the suspect's vehicle was matched to Raetz.

While detectives believe Molina was behind the wheel of the SUV that hit Raetz, a six-year veteran officer, Molina has pleaded not guilty. He claims he was asleep at home when Raetz was killed.

Charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal collision, both of which are felonies, Molina entered a plea of not guilty on June 19.

The Associated Press and's Mike Gertzman contributed to this report.