A California man currently on trial facing a murder charge apparently propped his dead ex-wife up during Christmas, and told their children that she was drunk while they opened presents, the prosecution said.
AP reports that William Wallace is currently on trial for the death of his former wife, 26-year-old Za’Zell Preston, who was killed while pursuing her dream of becoming a domestic violence counselor. The incident happened in 2011, at some point between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
According to prosecutors, Wallace physically beat Preston during a Christmas Eve argument when they returned to their Anaheim apartment, in the 200 block of Laxore Street, after attending a friend’s party. Investigators found blood throughout the apartment, the OCR reports, along with a door ripped from the hinges and holes in the wall.
At the time, Wallace and Preston lived together with their newborn boy and Preston’s two daughters, ages three and eight.
Heather Brown, the senior deputy district attorney in Orange County, told the court that on Christmas Day 2011, Wallace carried his wife’s body from their bedroom into the living room, where he propped her on the couch with sunglasses on. He then allegedly told his children that Preston “ruined Christmas” by getting intoxicated the night before.
“Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas,” the suspect said, according to the prosecution.
The children then opened their presents, unaware that their mother was deceased at the time.
Later that morning, Wallace contacted 911 and said his wife needed medical assistance. Paramedics arrived at the apartment and found Preston unresponsive. She was rushed to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Prosecutors said that Wallace inflicted blunt force trauma on Preston, which ultimately caused her death.
Wallace maintained his innocence and told investigators that Preston had gotten drunk and fell down on a glass table, which caused a concussion. Wallace admitted he “tossed her around a bit” and pulled her back into the apartment when she tried to flee.
Wallace’s defense attorney argued that Wallace put Preston in a bathtub after she fell, afer one of her daughters help pull the glass out of her skin. The attorney added that Preston hit her head while Wallace was moving her to the bathtub, causing further unintentional wounds.
“Mr. Wallace is being accused of something that is not his fault,” Wallace’s lawyer, Heather Moorhead, told jurors. “You will hear about a relationship that was full of arguing and yelling, but also a lot of love.”
Preston’s family reportedly said that Wallace was controlling and demanding toward Preston, and had a history of abusing her, even during her pregnancy. Preston’s relatives said they once found her lying in a fetal position while pregnant, in the street after Wallace beat her.
Preston enrolled at Cypress College months before her death and began taking courses on domestic violence, reportedly after being abused herself, family members said.
Further, one of Preston’s family members told authorities that Wallace called them shortly after the incident and said he was going to end up in the penitentiary.
“This Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life,” Brown said.
Wallace is facing 25 years to life if convicted on the first-degree murder charge. He remains behind bars on a $1 million bond.
The children are now in the care of relatives. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Za’Zell Preston/Facebook]