California Man Convicted of Killing Wife and Making Her Children Open Christmas Presents In Front of Her Body | Inside Edition

California Man Convicted of Killing Wife and Making Her Children Open Christmas Presents In Front of Her Body

The couple in a dated photo.

William Wallace, 39, has been convicted for second-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Za'Zell Preston, the Orange County DA's office announced Wednesday. Preston dreamed of becoming a domestic violence counselor.

A California man has been convicted of murder after he killed his wife Christmas morning 2011, propped her dead body on a couch, put sunglasses on her, and then had her children open their Christmas presents in front of her, Orange County prosecutors said. The man had previously spent time in jail for beating his wife, prosecutors said.

William Wallace, 39, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Za'Zell Preston, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday. 

He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years to life for the murder. 

During the March trial, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown told jurors that Wallace “did what he always did, expecting (Preston) to survive like she always did. This Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life,” Brown said, The Orange County Register reported. 

The murder took place between Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, 2011, when Wallace allegedly used “blunt force trauma to the head, rendering her unconscious,” the district attorney said in the release.

Wallace called 911 at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 25 to report that this wife was in need of medical attention. When Anaheim Police Department officers arrived, they discovered the Za’Zell was unresponsive. She was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead, the release said.

The victim’s 3-year-old and 8-year-old daughters from a previous relationship and the couple’s 7-week-old son were in the apartment at the time of the murder, according to the district attorney’s release.

“Mommy … got drunk and ruined Christmas,” prosecutors said Wallace told the children, the Orange County Register reported.

Preston had been taking college classes in hopes of becoming a domestic violence counselor, the DA’s office reported. 

“A young mother finally losing her life after years of violence at the hands of her husband is a heart wrenching tragedy,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement Wednesday. “That heartbreak is only exacerbated by the fact that her children witnessed much of the violence and were forced to celebrate Christmas in the presence of their dead mother. That is not a Christmas memory any child should be forced to have.

"We all have an obligation to speak up against violence of any kind, especially domestic violence where the victims are so fiercely controlled by their abusers," Spitzer continued. “The cycle of domestic violence is a vicious one and I want every victim of domestic violence to know that they are not alone. No one should have to live in fear of violence in their own home.”

If you or someone you know needs help, you can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, chat online on, or text "loveis" to 22522.

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