Man who pleaded no contest in officer's death to be sentenced in September

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – The man who pleaded no contest in the hit-and-run death of a Phoenix police officer will be sentenced on Sept. 12.

Jesus Molina originally was set to be sentenced Tuesday, but the proceeding was postponed. The decision came down late Monday.

This goes back to May 19, 2013, when an SUV hit and killed Officer Daryl Raetz as he was wrapping up a DUI stop in West Phoenix.

The driver, later identified as Molina, fled the scene.

Molina, 25, first pleaded not guilty, but then, after evidence against him mounted, changed his plea to no contest. While a plea of no contest is not technically an admission of guilt, judges treat it as such and sentence accordingly.

Police originally arrested Molina, the registered owner of the SUV that hit and killed Raetz, on drug charges.

Police investigators matched pieces of the vehicle from the crime scene with parts missing from Molina's SUV. In addition, DNA recovered from the undercarriage of the vehicle was matched to Raetz.

Court documents show Molina told police he was drinking and doing cocaine hours before the accident.

Earlier this year, the City of Phoenix dedicated a historical marker honoring Raetz. It is located in the area of 51st Avenue and Thomas Road, not far from where he was killed.

"He was one of Phoenix's finest -- one of our heroes," Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said during a small ceremony.

Raetz, who was 29, is survived by his wife Stephanie and daughter Tatum. Hundreds of officers were on hand to cheer for Tatum, aka Little Raetz, when she graduated from kindergarten just days after her father’s death.

More stories about Jesus Molina and the death of Officer Daryl Raetz