"Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas," he had told the children.
update 4/7/2021 2:41 PM
William Wallace has been convicted of second-degree murder.
After a day of deliberations, jurors found the 39-year-old guilty of killing his wife Za'Zell Preston on Christmas day, a decade ago.
In her closing argument, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said he had "He repeatedly threatened to kill her," before finally making good on his promise.
He was "beating her in the head -- that's the kill zone,'' she said, per ABC7. "That's why she's dead. He hit her in the head over and over... all the injuries to her head killed her.''
When police found the crime scene it "looked like a scene from The Shining," she said; she dismissed Wallace's claim she had gotten drunk and fallen, pointing out: "Even if you believe this was an accident, his failing to get medical attention is implied malice murder."
Jurors had been instructed to consider the more serious charge of first-degree murder — meaning it was premeditated — but also the lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter (in the heat of the moment, with provocation) or involuntary manslaughter (in that he did not mean to kill her).
In the end they settled on second-degree murder, for which he will be sentenced on June 4.
original story 3/10/2021 10:38 AM
The murder trial of a California man has heard how he tried to fool his children into believing she was still alive on Christmas morning.
William Wallace is accused of murdering his wife, 26-year-old Za'Zell Preston, on Christmas Eve 2011; his trial began on Monday.
"This Christmas story does not have a happy ending, and unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life," Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown told jurors, Mercury News reported.
She described a violent relationship leading to her death, claiming he had threatened to kill his wife on several occasions, and how one relative said they once found her, while she was pregnant, lying in the fetal position in the middle of the street following a beating.
On the night of her death, the couple went to a Christmas Eve party at a neighbor's, before returning home to their newborn son, and Preston's daughters, then aged eight and three.
According to Brown, one neighbor heard them arguing, while another reported seeing him picking up what appeared to be a body at the apartment gate.
She said Wallace admitted to his in-laws that "we were drinking and during the argument I tossed her around a bit", and that she had tried to flee the home but he caught her outside and brought her back into the apartment.
The following morning, Brown claimed Wallace dragged his wife's body from the bedroom to the living room couch, sat her down and put sunglasses on her, before telling the children to open their Christmas presents.
"Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas," he allegedly told them.