A California man killed his wife — then propped up her body on a sofa for their children as they opened presents on Christmas morning, prosecutors alleged this week.
William Wallace, 39, allegedly told the kids that his 26-year-old wife, Za’Zell Preston, was drunk as they unwrapped presents at their Anaheim home in front of her body, the Orange County Register reported.
The disturbing scene from December 2011 was described as Wallace’s murder trial got underway Monday.
“This Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life,” Heather Brown, senior deputy district attorney, told jurors.
Prosecutors allege that the couple — who shared a newborn son, as well as Preston’s two daughters, then ages 3 and 8 — had gone to a neighbor’s Christmas Eve party before her sudden death almost a decade ago.
One neighbor said they heard the couple arguing later that night after they returned, the outlet reported.
Wallace allegedly told one of Preston’s relatives that “we were drinking and during the argument I tossed her around a bit.”
The next morning, Wallace dragged his wife’s body from the bedroom to the living room, where he placed her on the couch with sunglasses on, Brown said.
“Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas,” he allegedly told the children.
It’s unclear who called 911 but when paramedics arrived, she was slumped over on the couch, prosecutors said.
Police discovered blood throughout the apartment, in addition to holes punched in walls and a door that was off its hinges.
Wallace was arrested and has remained in custody on $1 million bail for nine years as he awaited trial, the newspaper reported.
His lawyer argued that Wallace wasn’t responsible for Preston’s sudden death — insisting that she died from injuries after she drunkenly tripped and fell into a glass table.
“Mr. Wallace is being accused of something that is not his fault,” Heather Moorhead told jurors. “You will hear about a relationship that was full of arguing and yelling, but also a lot of love.”
If convicted of first-degree murder, Wallace could face up to 25 years to life in prison.