Hanako Abe and Elizabeth Platt were in a crosswalk in San Francisco's SoMA District at the time of the hit-and-run that claimed their lives.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A repeat offender accused of hitting and killing two women in a stolen car in San Francisco on New Year's Eve appeared in court Tuesday.
Troy McAlister entered a not guilty plea in court Tuesday on charges related to the deaths of Hanako Abe and Elizabeth Platt New Year's Eve in San Francisco.
The women were in a crosswalk in the SoMA District at the time. San Francisco police say McAlister, who is on parole for robbery, was trying to make a getaway after committing a burglary and hit and killed the women.
"I'm actually shaking right now just thinking about what happened," said Abe's close friend, Mari Kikuchi.
The tragedy has sparked outrage as San Francisco Police Officer's Association President Tony Montoya says McAlister should have been in custody.
"This just highlights the current climate of the District Attorney's Office, where Mr. Boudin and his staff are having their criminals-first agenda with a victim being an afterthought," said Montoya.
Montoya is calling for an independent oversight panel to review San Francisco District Attorney's Office charging decisions and conflicts of interest.
After McAlister's court appearance, Deputy Public Defender Scott Grant said, "There have been a lot of quick comments, accusations, and attempts to point fingers and apportion blame."
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tells ABC7 News that none of McAlister's numerous arrests following his 2020 release resulted in criminal charges filed by District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
Montoya says Boudin had a conflict because he represented McAlister when he was a public defender in a 2015 armed robbery case.
"When they were making that charging decision that ultimately ended up with Mr. McAlister being released in March of last year, they should have looked at who had any kind of involvement in that case to rule out any conflicts of interest and they didn't do that," said Montoya.
Public Defender Mano Raju says Boudin was standing in for another attorney and that there is no conflict of interest.
"It's not a situation where you develop a relationship with an individual or have confidential information about them. It's really more of an administrative function," said Raju.
ABC7 News Anchor Dion Lim asked Boudin to explain why he was shifting attention to the law enforcement agencies that have arrested McAlister since his release.
"This is not about blaming police about this case. The fact of the matter is my office can not prosecute cases until and unless police present us with adequate evidence that a crime was committed," said Boudin.
With two women whose lives were cut short, the SFPOA and San Francisco Public Defender's Office seem to have at least one thing in common.
"I think everyone can agree this should not have happened," said Raju.