SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – A Southern California man who killed his wife and propped her body up on a sofa as his children opened Christmas presents was convicted of second degree murder on Wednesday.
William Wallace, 39, of Anaheim, faces 15 years in life in prison when sentenced in June, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Za’Zell Preston, 26, was attending college in hopes of becoming a domestic violence counselor when she was fatally beaten on December 24 or early December 25, 2011 by Wallace, who had already served a sentence jail for beating her, the statement said. mentionned.
Prosecutors said the couple went to a neighbor’s Christmas party and a neighbor described hearing an argument later that night.
The next morning, according to the prosecution, Wallace dragged his wife’s body from the bedroom to the living room sofa, placed sunglasses on her and told the children, “Mum ruined Christmas, she got drunk. and ruined Christmas. “
He then asked them to open their Christmas presents, authorities said.
Wallace’s attorney argued that Preston died of her injuries after tripping while intoxicated and falling onto a glass table, shattering it.
Preston was slumped on the couch when the paramedics arrived. She left behind a 7 week old son and two daughters from a previous relationship, who were 3 and 8 at the time.
“A young mother who finally lost her life after years of violence at the hands of her husband is a heartbreaking tragedy,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement. “This grief is only exacerbated by the fact that her children witnessed much of the violence and were forced to celebrate Christmas in the presence of their deceased mother. It is not a Christmas memory that a child should have to have. “