SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man who killed his wife and propped up her body on a sofa as her children opened Christmas presents was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison.
William Wallace, 39, of Anaheim was convicted of second-degree murder earlier this year for the 2011 killing of Za’Zell Preston, 26.
Authorities said Preston suffered repeated abuse from Wallace during the marriage.
Preston’s mother spoke at his sentencing hearing, the Orange County Register reported.
“He beat and tortured my daughter and at the same time mentally assassinated her children,” Saidell Preston said. “He showed her no mercy. Let’s show him no mercy.”
Prosecutors said Preston was taking college classes in hopes of becoming a domestic violence counselor when she was fatally beaten on Dec. 24 or early Dec. 25 in 2011 by Wallace, who already had served jail time for beating her.
Prosecutors said the couple had gone to a neighbor’s Christmas Eve party, and a neighbor described hearing an argument later that night.
The next morning, according to the prosecution, Wallace dragged his wife’s body from the bedroom to the living room couch, placed sunglasses on her and told the children: “Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas.”
He then had them open their Christmas presents, authorities said.
Wallace’s attorney argued that Preston died from injuries after she drunkenly tripped and fell into a glass table, shattering it.
Preston was slumped over on the couch when paramedics arrived. She left a 7-week-old son and two daughters from a previous relationship, who were then 3 and 8 years old.