Alan Lester Mabrey, 45, was ordered held on $2 million bail.
Deputy District Attorney Patty Herian told Judge David Szumowski that Mabrey was intoxicated when he made a left turn from Reed Avenue onto Mission Boulevard about 8 p.m. last Saturday and plowed into Emily Cathleen Dowdy, causing what turned out to be fatal head injuries.
Mabrey's blood-alcohol level was measured at .22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle, Herian said.
A passenger in Mabrey's truck got out to help the victim, but Mabrey took off on foot and was spotted about an hour later at a nearby Burger King restaurant, the prosecutor said.
Mabrey arrived in San Diego only a couple of days prior to the accident and and has no known ties to the area, Herian told the judge.
She alleged the defendant was a flight risk and a danger to the community, noting Mabrey has a 2006 false imprisonment conviction from Colorado and five drunken driving convictions dating back to 1992 from Texas.
Herian said Mabrey spent five years in prison for his latest DUI from 1999.
The victim's mother said her only daughter had a great impact on the Pacific Beach community since relocating from Florida two years ago.
"We are going to fight until the day we die to change the (drunken driving) laws ... to change the sentencing criteria for these people," Ellie Dowdy told reporters outside court.
"Five times? Two felony DUIs? Five years in jail? Do you know how totally reprehensible that is?" the mother said. "Do you know how filthy and immoral that is, that we smile and smirk and turn our faces away from things like this? I'm telling you, something has to be done."
The victim's liver was donated to two people, including a teenager who had a week to live, her mother said.
Besides second-degree murder, Mabrey is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run causing death, DUI causing death and driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher causing death.
If convicted, Mabrey faces a sentence of 15 years to life on the murder charge and an additional seven to nine years on the other charges, Herian said.
A status conference was scheduled for Feb. 19 and a preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 26.