Man ‘killed wife then propped her up on sofa while kids opened Christmas presents’

A husband accused of murdering his wife propped up her body on a sofa as their children opened presents on Christmas day, a court heard.

William Wallace, 39, allegedly told the kids their mum, Za’Zell Preston, 26, had “ruined Christmas” by “getting drunk” as they unwrapped gifts on December 25, 2011.

Neighbours reportedly heard the couple fighting after they returned home from a festive party on Christmas Eve, prosecutors claim.

Wallace is said to have accepted there was argument, telling one of Ms Preston’s relatives that “we were drinking and during the argument I tossed her around a bit.”

But he denies murdering the mum-of-three and his lawyer has claimed on his behalf that the victim died from injuries after drunkenly tripping and falling through a glass table.

Za’Zell Preston

Heather Moorhead, defending, said the couple, who shared Ms Preston’s two little girls as well as a newborn son, had a relationship “full of yelling but also lots of love”.

Police arrived at the family home in Anaheim, Southern California, to find blood throughout the property, holes punched through the walls and a door off its hinges.

Ms Preston is understood to have been studying to become a domestic violence counsellor at the time of the tragedy, The Orange County Register reports.

William Wallace

Senior deputy district attorney in Orange County Heather Brown said on Monday: “This Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life.”

On Christmas morning, Wallace dragged his wife’s body from the bedroom to the living room, where he placed her on the couch with sunglasses on, Ms Brown said.

“Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas,” he allegedly told the children.

It’s unclear who called 911 but when paramedics arrived, she was slumped over on the couch, prosecutors said.

Wallace, who was 30 years old at the time of his arrest, has been in jail since his December 2011 arrest in lieu of $1million bail, according to records.

The trial continues.