California man props his deceased wife onto sofa for children while opening Christmas presents, prosecutor says

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An abusive relationship ended when an Anaheim man killed his wife, then laid her body on a sofa for his children, opening presents on Christmas morning 2011, a juror told jurors on Monday, March 8. .

More than nine years after Za’Zell Preston, 26, dreams of becoming a domestic violence counselor ended with her own sudden death in 2011, the trial began Monday for William Wallace, the husband who had previously served one prison sentence for beating her during an earlier clash.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Heather Brown told jurors Wallace, now 39, “did what he always did, expecting (Preston) to survive as she always has.” made. …

“This Christmas story doesn’t have a happy ending, and unfortunately it’s not just a story, it’s real life,” Brown said.

Wallace’s attorney, Heather Moorhead, denied his client was responsible for his wife’s death, telling jurors that a drunk Preston was injured when she fell into a glass table, shattering it.

“Sir. Wallace is being accused of something that is not his fault,” Moorhead told jurors. “You will hear about a relationship full of arguing and screaming, but also a lot of love.”

Relatives of Preston told investigators Wallace was bossy and violent, and alleged that he threatened to kill his wife on multiple occasions. One parent described finding a pregnant Preston lying in a fetal position on the street after an alleged beating, the prosecutor said.

On Christmas Eve that year, the couple went to a party at a neighbor’s house before returning home to the apartment they shared with their newborn son and Preston’s daughters who were then three and eight. years.

A neighbor described hearing an argument that night, the prosecutor said, while another told investigators Wallace could be seen picking up what appeared to be a body near an apartment door . Wallace told one of Preston’s family members that “we were drinking and during the argument I shook her up a bit,” Brown told court, adding that Preston had tried to run away but that he had caught up with her and brought her back to the apartment.

The next morning – Christmas Day – the prosecutor said Wallace dragged his wife’s body from the bedroom to the living room sofa, put on her sunglasses and told the kids, “Mum messed up. Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas. “

Then, Brown added, he asked the children to open their presents.

Police found blood throughout the apartment, as well as holes drilled in the walls and a door hanging off its hinges. Preston was still slumped on the couch when the paramedics arrived.

In a call to one of Preston’s relatives after his death, Wallace said he was “on his way to the penitentiary,” the prosecutor said.

Wallace’s attorney said neighbors heard what sounded like an angry Preston yelling at Wallace in an alley behind the apartment complex. Defense attorney said Preston’s eldest daughter saw her mother trip and fall onto a table before Wallace could stop her.

The daughter helped remove the glass from her mother’s body and clean up her wounds, Moorhead said. Wallace then moved her to a tub, defense attorney said, but Preston’s head hit something else in the bathroom on the way.

Wallace has told several people his wife suffered a concussion after falling and hitting her head the night before and had not woken up, his lawyer said.

Several months before her death, Preston had enrolled in classes at Cypress College, where she hoped to learn how to become a domestic violence counselor.

If convicted of first degree murder, Wallace faces up to 25 years in life. He has remained behind bars in lieu of $ 1 million bail pending trial since his arrest on Dec. 25, 2011, prison records show.


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