According to police reports released this past Friday, July 19t, 2013, a suspect in a fatal hit-and-run crime resulting in the death of Phoenix Police Office Darryl Raetz, 29, has been charged following DNA tests on vehicle. The crime occurred at 3:30am on May 19th, 2013, when Officer Raetz was stopped on his motorcycle with a suspected drunk driver. The suspect, 24 year-old Jesus Cabrera Molina swiped the police officer while driving past, killing the officer and then fleeing the scene.
The unique evidence in this case successfully tying the suspect to the crime is DNA. Just a few hours after the officer was killed, an APB (All Points Bulletin) out for a large green SUV resulted in officers stopping the green Ford Expedition of Molina. Upon inspection of the vehicle’s condition, officers suspected there was frontal damage consistent with a strike which may have been related to the hit-and-run crime.
Officer’s DNA found on vehicle of suspect
Upon reviewing the vehicle for damage, officers arrested Molina on suspicion of hit-and-run and towed the vehicle to the Phoenix Police crime laboratory. Later DNA testing revealed the biological samples extracted from the damaged bumper of Molina’s vehicle were those of the fallen Phoenix police officer.
Molina was immediately booked on charges of manslaughter and also for fleeing the scene of a fatal accident, an additional charge. Molina is being held currently with no bail and will face a pre-trial arraignment later this summer in August.
More evidence against Molina
While DNA evidence in the case seems to show clearly Molina’s vehicle was the one which struck and killed officer Raetz, more evidence against the suspect has been collected. Friends of Molina have given statements that place Molina and an unidentified friend partying late into the night just a few blocks from where the crime occurred.
Another Phoenix police officer, Tolleson, identified the suspect’s vehicle and driver as Molina, crossing an intersection at 5:10 or 5:20am, less than two hours after the crash.
Additional investigation since the arrest has shown that not only is Molina the registered owner of the Ford Expedition, he also has cell phone calls tracing him near to where the accident occurred just after 3:30am.
Tracking a killer with DNA
Using DNA testing technology is certainly nothing new these days for police investigators looking for their suspect. Such cases as the Meredith Kercher case relied on the analysis of forensic evidence but in this special case, it was heavily criticised and shoddily done – why not continue reading about this.
This case attracted media attention across the country however due to the fact that crime was solved almost immediately and that the vehicle- not the suspect- carried the condemning biological material.
This is the first time in Phoenix where a hit-and-run accident was successfully closed using DNA evidence. By quickly identifying the vehicle type of the assailant, investigators were able to capture the suspect’s vehicle before DNA material was potentially degraded or cleaned by the perpetrator. In many cases a vehicle is suspected of being involved in an accident and fleeing the scene, however due to too much time passing before apprehension the suspect has already thoroughly cleaned the vehicle of evidence.