Man accused of killing wife, propping her in front of kids to open Christmas gifts

 The trial begins for William Wallace, who faces first-degree murder charges in the 2011 death of Za’Zell Preston

After awaiting trial for nearly a decade, new details have emerged in the case against William Wallace, who allegedly killed his wife, Za’Zell Preston.  

Read More: Boyfriend charged with murder of Detroit woman 8 months after death

According to the Associated Press, the prosecution claimed Wallace propped his dead wife’s body on the couch on Christmas morning while the children opened gifts. He allegedly told the children, then aged three and eight, that their mother was drunk and ruining the holiday.

When paramedics arrived, her body was slumped over on the couch.

Wallace allegedly dragged her from the bedroom to the living room and placed her on the sofa, positioning sunglasses on her face. He informed a family member of hers that “we were drinking and during the argument, I tossed her around a bit,” the prosecutor reported.

Crime scene
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

According to his attorneys, Wallace claimed his wife died after drunkenly falling 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.”

Read More: N.C. couple charged with murder of pregnant woman found in suitcase

According to the Orange County Register, Wallace had previously served jail time for committing violence against his wife. Heather Brown, the senior deputy district attorney in Orange County, said the night of Za’Zell Preston’s death, Wallace “did what he always did, expecting (Preston) to survive like she always did.”

She continued, “This Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life.”

Preston had recently enrolled in courses at Cypress College in hopes of becoming a domestic violence counselor. She had previously shared with family that her husband was controlling, violent and had even threatened to kill her more than once. A relative shared an incident where they found Preston, pregnant and curled up in the fetal position in the street after Wallace beat her.

According to the report, on the night of her death, the couple attended a holiday party before returning home and engaging in a loud argument heard by neighbors.

William Preston Photo: Orange County Jail

Another witness claimed to have seen Wallace recovering what appeared to be a body near an entry gate.

At the crime scene, police found blood in multiple areas throughout the apartment, holes punched in walls, and a door off the hinges. The defense attorney claimed Preston’s older daughter saw her mother trip and fall into a table. The child then allegedly helped pull the glass out of her mother’s wounds and clean up the injuries and body.

Wallace then moved the body to the tub, hitting her head on something along the way. According to the report, his lawyer claims he shared with multiple people that his wife had fallen and suffered a concussion.

If convicted, Wallace faces up to 25 years to life in prison. He has been held on $1 million bail since Christmas 2011.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!