Man propped dead wife on couch, had kids open Christmas presents with her, telling them she was drunk, prosecutors say

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A man on trial for the murder of his wife is accused of putting her body on the family’s couch and telling their children that she was drunk, prosecutors told the jury, The Associated Press reported.

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Officials said William Wallace and his wife Za’Zell Preston had gone to a Christmas Eve party the night before in 2011, The Orange County Register reported. After the get-together, a neighbor had heard the couple arguing later that night.

Prosecutors said Wallace admitted to a member of his wife’s family “we were drinking and during the argument, I tossed her around a bit,” the AP reported.

The Anaheim, California, man’s trial started this week.

He also told the family that his wife tried to run away but he caught her, bringing her back into their apartment, the Register reported.

The next morning, prosecutors said, Wallace dragged Preston’s body from their bedroom to the couch, put sunglasses on her face and told their children, “Mommy ruined Christmas. She got drunk and ruined Christmas.” The children, aged 3 and 8 at the time, also opened their presents in front of their mother.

When police and paramedics arrived, Preston was still on the couch and blood was found throughout the apartment. They also saw holes in walls and a door was off its hinges, the Register reported.

His attorney told the jury: “Mr. Wallace is being accused of something that is not his fault. You will hear about a relationship that was full of arguing and yelling, but also a lot of love.”

Wallace said Preston died after she tripped and fell on a glass table while she was drunk.

Preston had been studying to become a domestic violence counselor, the Register reported.

Wallace has been charged with first-degree murder and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

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