Troy McAlister appears for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, January 5, 2021. (Pool photo by Jessica Christian)

Troy McAlister appears for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, January 5, 2021. (Pool photo by Jessica Christian)

DA court filing says office ‘missed’ parolee’s ‘out-of-control spiral’

The parolee accused of killing two women with a stolen vehicle was engaged in an escalating pattern of criminal conduct that prosecutors failed to recognize, an assistant district attorney said in a newly obtained court filing.

Assistant District Attorney Ryan Kao said prosecutors “missed” Troy McAlister’s “out-of-control spiral” in a motion seeking to detain him without bail in the deaths of Hanako Abe, 27, and Elizabeth Platt, 60.

“Defendant’s pattern of criminality has done nothing but increase over the years, and unfortunately the People missed Defendant’s out-of-control spiral while on parole,” Kao wrote in the detention motion from Jan. 5.

McAlister was arrested but not charged in connection with various drug and theft crimes after being released on parole last April under a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. He had served five years in County Jail for robbing the cashiers at a Mission District market with an airsoft gun.

“In hindsight, the thread running through these cases seems obvious,” Kao wrote. “It was only a matter of time before Defendant victimized someone else — it is just so disturbing that the victimization happened so quickly and so traumatically.”

McAlister is facing numerous charges including manslaughter over the deaths on New Year’s Eve. On Wednesday, a judge ruled that he remain in jail pending trial, though a defense attorney for McAlister is expected to make a case for his release at a later date.

While District Attorney Chesa Boudin has accepted blame for the incident, he has also defended the decisions to not file charges against McAlister over his arrests while on parole and instead refer the cases to parole agents, who have the power to detain parolees or impose other sanctions.

Boudin has also pointed to miscommunications between various agencies, including when police failed to notify parole of a Dec. 20 arrest.

“I’ve said from the beginning that hindsight is 20/20,” Boudin said Thursday. “Every single law enforcement agency that has had contact with Mr. McAlister wishes they had done something different that might have prevented this tragedy, and that certainly includes my office and my staff.”

The McAlister case has become a flash point for Boudin and is being used by his opponents to seek a recall and oppose his policies, including the one that led to McAlister being released last April when his office dismissed earlier strike enhancements against him.

But Boudin’s supporters have said it is not uncommon for prosecutors to refer low-level arrests to parole instead of filing new charges, and have pointed out that McAlister did serve five years for the robbery before being released on parole.

The Sacramento Bee also recently reported that parole agents are not allowed to return parolees to custody during the pandemic without a clear and imminent risk to public safety.

In the detention motion, Kao alleged McAlister was on a “methamphetamine-fueled rampage” when he blew through the red light at Second and Mission streets, collided with another vehicle and spun out of control into the victims.

He had just two minutes earlier stolen a cash register and laptop from a vegan sandwich shop in South Beach, prosecutors said.

After the collision, McAlister allegedly took off his shirt to conceal his identity and ran into a nearby building. When police found him on the seventh floor, he “claimed he ran into the building to get high and that he had been drinking and smoking dope all day.”

Police also discovered a .40 caliber pistol in the stolen car left at the scene, as well as 26 individually wrapped baggies of methamphetamine and a digital scale.

While Kao alleged McAlister’s four arrests leading up to the hit-and-run included “violent ones,” all four detailed in his motion appear to be related to drug or property crimes.

He was arrested in October and December for allegedly stealing cars around Balboa BART Station, including a minivan whose driver had hopped out to deliver newspapers.

His first arrest was from June, when McAlister allegedly bashed down the door of a vacant apartment in Ingleside and later told police a resident had given him permission to “enter the apartment and do drugs.”

The most serious case appears to be from August, when he allegedly hopped into a car on Mission Street and grabbed at the driver’s pants and pockets until the driver exited the vehicle. Prosecutors say police found McAlister in the car on the Great Highway two days later.

Scott Grant, a deputy public defender representing McAlister, said he could not address the allegations included in the motion because he has not received all of the evidence agaisnt McAlister in the case.

“Police reports frequently contain errors or are wrong and I am going to investigate every allegation fully,” Grant said Wednesday.

McAlister has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court March 3.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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