California Man Allegedly Propped Dead Wife’s Body on Couch as Kids Opened Christmas Presents

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Image via Getty/LPETTET

California man William Wallace has been accused of murdering his wife, and then propping up her dead body on a couch as their kids opened Christmas presents, the Mercury News reports.

Wallace, now 39, allegedly murdered 26-year-old Za’Zell Preston on Christmas morning in 2011, with one particuarly grisly detail coming to light in court on Monday.

The couple had been at a party at a neighbor’s house on Christmas Eve, and witnesses say they overheard them arguing. Wallace later told someone from Preston’s family that they were drinking and during the argument he “tossed her around a bit,” according to senior deputy district attorney Heather Brown. Another neighbor said that they saw Wallace picking up what appeared to be a body near an apartment gate around the time of the incident, and at one point, Preston tried to run away before she was caught and brought back into their apartment.

As per the prosecutor, Wallace eventually dragged his wife’s dead body from the bedroom to the living room couch on Christmas Day. He propped her up on the couch, put sunglasses on her, and told the kids, “Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas.” He then allegedly had the children open their presents, seemingly unaware that their mother was dead.

Police found blood in the apartment, holes that were punched through the walls, and a door that was torn off its hinges. By the time paramedics arrived at the scene, Preston was still on the sofa. Wallace told people that Preston suffered a concussion after drunkenly falling through a glass table. The defense attorney claimed Preston’s older daughter saw her fall into a table, and later helped clean her wounds and pull glass out of her.

Wallace is facing first-degree murder charges, and could get 25 years to life in prison. He’s currently behind bars on $1 million bail while awaiting trial, and has been in jail since his Dec. 25, 2011 arrest. Preston had enrolled in a domestic-violence counselor course several months before her death.

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