- William Wallace has been convicted of second-degree murder after the death of his wife 9 years ago.
- The daughter of Za’Zell Preston told the court that Wallace propped up her mom’s body on the couch.
- Wallace faces up to 15 years to life imprisonment, and will find out his sentence on June 4.
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The Anaheim man who propped up his wife’s dead body on a sofa for her children on Christmas Day in 2011 has been convicted of murder.
William Wallace, now 39, was in a violent relationship with Za’Zell Preston, 26, up until her death nine years ago in 2011. That death has now been attributed to Wallace, with the Orange County Superior Court jury finding Wallace guilty of second-degree murder.
During the trial, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said that Preston was the victim of a history of domestic abuse at Wallace’s hands. Wallace had previously served time in jail for beating Preston and was placed under a restraining order. However, he persuaded Preston to get back together with him.
“He had been threatening to kill her for three years,” Brown said, as reported by the Orange County Register. “And on Christmas, he made good on those threats.”
Wallace and Preston lived together in an Anaheim apartment with their newborn son and Preston’s daughters. The daughters were three and eight years old, and on Christmas Eve, Wallace and Preston went to a neighbor’s party.
The elder daughter, now 17, testified in the trial and told the court that Wallace and Preston were arguing when they returned from the party. The daughter said the confrontation soon turned violent and alleged that Wallace pushed her mother into a glass table.
The daughter said that Wallace asked her to help him pull pieces of glass out of Preston’s body. Wallace, the daughter alleged, then took the body into the bathroom to clean before dropping her head on the toilet seat.
“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. That is what I remember because she was cold,” the daughter said.
Brown said that Wallace did not call 911 after this, despite his wife’s bleeding head injury. The daughter then said that the next morning, Christmas Day, she and her sister went into the living room to open Christmas presents. Wallace proceeded to drag Preston’s body into the room and propped her up on the sofa, the daughter said.
“I remember trying to touch my mom and she was just rock hard, cold and I said, ‘Mommy,’ and she didn’t respond,” the daughter said.
Wallace’s attorney, Heather Moorhead, said that while Preston’s death was “heartbreaking,” it was not Wallace’s fault.
“Both of them were drunk, and the injuries that ultimately caused her death was not caused by Mr. Wallace,” Moorhead said. “There are no facts in this case that show Mr. Wallace intended to kill.”
Moorhead also said that the daughter’s testimony conflicted with what she told investigators shortly after the incident. Moorhead said that the daughter told investigators that her mother had tripped and fallen into the table by herself before Wallace could stop her.
Jurors had to choose from a variety of charges, including involuntary manslaughter and first-degree murder. Eventually, they chose second-degree murder, meaning Wallace, who has been in jail since his 2011 arrest, faces up to 15 years to life imprisonment. He is scheduled to return to court on June 4 for the sentencing.