Dad propped dead wife up on sofa on Christmas Day and told kids ‘she was drunk’

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A man has been awaiting trial for almost a decade accused of killing his wife and then propping her dead body up on a sofa so she could “watch” her children open their Christmas presents.

Prosecutors allege that William Wallace got into a drunken argument with his wife Za’Zell Preston in December 2011 and killed her.

Wallace has admitted that “we were drinking and during the argument, I tossed her around a bit”.

Orange County’s Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown says that the abuser “did what he always did, expecting his wife to survive like she always did,” but “this Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life.”

Wallace’s defence team suggests that his wife died in her sleep, after suffering concussion.

But what is not disputed is that on Christmas morning, Wallace propped Preston’s body up on a couch in the family’s living room, put sunglasses on her to conceal the fact that she was dead, and allowed their children to open their presents in front of the dead body, telling them that she was asleep.

Wallace claims that he’s "being accused of something that is not his fault." According to his defence lawyers, Preston had too much to drink on Christmas Eve and fell into a glass table, which broke, and fatally injured her.

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Prosecutors claim that Wallace told the kids: “Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas.” The victim’s children then opened Christmas presents in front of their dead mother.

Za’Zell “ZZ” Preston was a 26-year-old woman and mother of three. She was training as a domestic-violence counsellor – inspired, friends say, by her own experience. In an obituary notice she is described as the proud mother of daughters, Zyianna Nyale, Valice Noreal and son, Macell Emari.

Wallace was arrested on Boxing Day, 2011. When police arrived, they found the couple’s flat spattered with blood blood-spattered. Wallace has remained in prison since awaiting trial. He’s now 39 years old and faces up to life in prison on a charge of first-degree murder.

If you have been affected by issues of domestic violence or coercive control you can call Refuge's 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free. The number is 0808 2000 247

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