California man who propped dead wife on couch for kids on Christmas convicted of murder

An Anaheim man who propped his wife’s body up on a sofa for her children to open Christmas presents in 2011 was convicted Wednesday, April 7, of murder.

Nine years after the violent relationship between William Wallace, now 39, and 26-year-old Za’Zell Preston ended with her death, an Orange County Superior Court jury found Wallace guilty of second-degree murder.

During the trial, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown described Preston’s death as the culmination of a history of domestic violence carried out by Wallace, and noted he failed to call 911 despite his injured wife bleeding from a head injury.

“He had been threatening to kill her for three years,” Brown said. “And on Christmas, he made good on those threats.”

Wallace’s attorney, Heather Moorhead, said Preston’s death was “heartbreaking,” but not Wallace’s fault.

“Both of them were drunk, and the injuries that ultimately caused her death were not caused by Mr. Wallace,” Moorhead said. “There are no facts in this case that show Mr. Wallace intended to kill.”

Preston had been pursuing dreams of becoming a domestic-violence counselor, driven partly by her own experience with Wallace, who had served time in jail for beating her and had been under a restraining order before persuading Preston to get back together with him.

Jurors were given a variety of charges to deliberate, from involuntary manslaughter to first-degree murder.

Jurors were also tasked with sifting through recollections of the night Preston died and the following Christmas morning.

Relatives of Preston described Wallace as controlling and violent, saying he had threatened to kill Preston on several occasions. Preston’s grandmother testified to finding Preston laying in the fetal position in the street after one alleged beating, and on another occasion receiving a call from Preston while she hid from Wallace in a convenience-store bathroom.

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Wallace and Preston were living in an Anaheim apartment with their newborn son and Preston’s daughters, who were then three and eight years old. On Christmas Eve, the couple went to a party at a neighbor’s home.

During the trial, the older daughter, now 17, said Wallace and Preston were arguing when they returned, describing a confrontation that slowly turned physical.

The daughter described Wallace pushing Preston into a glass table. Wallace then asked the daughter to help him pull pieces of glass from Preston’s body, the daughter testified, before Wallace carried Preston into a bathroom to clean up her body. In the bathroom, Wallace dropped Preston with her head hitting the side of a toilet seat, the daughter added.

“After she hit the toilet, and I think she was passed away, he just took her to the bedroom and put her down to sleep while she was deceased,” the daughter said. “That is what I remember, because she was cold.”

The daughter said she and her younger sister woke up the next morning and went out to open gifts. Wallace dragged Preston’s body into the living room and placed it on the living-room couch, the daughter said.

“I remember trying to touch my mom and she was just rock hard, cold and …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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