Man Props Wife’s Dead Body on Couch and Had Kids Open Christmas Gifts

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*A California man is accused of murdering his wife, and then propping up her dead body on a couch as their kids opened Christmas presents. 

According to the Mercury News, William Wallace allegedly killed his wife, Za’Zell Preston, 26, on Christmas Eve 2011; which occurred during an argument. Preston and Wallace were reportedly in a violent relationship and he threatened to kill her on multiple occasions. The victim was reportedly studying to become a domestic violence counselor at the time. 

During his trial on Monday, prosecutors claimed Wallace placed Preston’s dead body on the sofa with sunglasses on and told their children, “Mommy … got drunk and ruined Christmas,” the Mercury News reports. The children proceeded to open up their Christmas presents, unaware that their mother was dead. Per PEOPLE, Wallace’s two daughters were 8 and 3 years old at the time of the killing. The couple also shared a 7-week-old newborn.

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Police found Preston still on the sofa and blood in the apartment, with holes punched through the walls, and a door that was torn off its hinges. 

“This Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said in court, according to the Associated Press

Wallace’s defense attorney Heather Moorhead claims Preston got drunk and fell through a glass table.

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

Wallace allegedly told multiple people that Preston had fallen, hit her head and suffered a concussion, and had not woken up. The prosecution noted that he told one of her relatives he was “on my way to the penitentiary” after her death.

Wallace faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. He has been jailed in lieu of a $1million bail since his December 25, 2011 arrest, according to the report. 

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