Who was Za'Zell Preston? Mom's body was cold when killer put it on couch, says daughter

The husband, William Wallace, who was arrested for the murder and has been in prison for the last nine years, was sentenced to 15 years to life


                            Who was Za'Zell Preston? Mom's body was cold when killer put it on couch, says daughter
Za'Zell Preston (L) was killed by her husband William Wallace in a drunken rage and he then put her dead body on the couch on Christmas morning (Orange County Jail)

ORANGE, CALIFORNIA: In March 2021, a court heard the spine-chilling details of the 2011 murder of a California mom whose husband killed her, popped her dead body on the couch on Christmas morning, and asked their children to open gifts around her. This Friday, June 4, the husband, William Wallace, who was arrested for the murder and has been in prison for the last nine years, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Wallace, who was being detained at an Orange County prison, was sentenced to 15 years to life after being convicted of second-degree murder of the mother, identified as Za'Zell Preston, reports People. Wallace, who had attacked Preston in their apartment with their three children present in the home, got credit for the time served so far. News of the California mom's murder resurfaced just two days after the brutal murder of California trans-activist Poe Black, who was found stabbed to death along the Coachella Canal on May 11. Another California woman is also currently being pursued by cops after she killed her 3-year-old daughter by leaving her in a hot car for three hours on June 7.

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Who is Za'Zell Preston?

The 26-year-old Preston was killed some time between December 24 and December 25, 2011, by her husband Wallace, who had then propped up her lifeless body and lied to the kids that their mother had "ruined Christmas" by getting drunk. He put Preston's body on the couch with sunglasses on and had their children open presents around her. These children were then aged three, eight, and one was a newborn. 

Testifying in her father's trial, Preston's now 18-year-old daughter remembered that her mother's body was cold on that Christmas morning. Prosecutors also told the court that Wallace had said: "Mommy ... got drunk and ruined Christmas." Preston had also been attacked by Wallace in the past, for which he had spent time in jail as well. When Preston died, she had been studying to be a domestic abuse counselor. 

Za'Zell Preston pictured with her husband and murderer William Wallace (Orange County Jail)

Murder of Za'Zell Preston

Preston died after she and her husband, Wallace, 39, from Anaheim, California, got home from a neighbor's Christmas party. An argument had reportedly broken out, said a neighbor according to Daily Mail. With her husband in a drunken rage attacking her, Preston had allegedly tried to flee, but Wallace had dragged her back in, continuing his attacks. Neighbors told the police that they saw Wallace picking up what looked like a dead body, reports the outlet. 

"We were drinking and during the argument I tossed her around a bit," Wallace allegedly told one of Preston's relatives. When police arrived, they found bloodstains all around the couple's home, and Preston's body propped up on the couch. Wallace also told relatives that he was defending himself from Preston, claiming that it was her who had attacked and bit him. Wallace claimed that Preston died from injuries after a fall where she hit her head. His attorney told the court that Preston died from drunkenly tripping and falling into a glass table, shattering it.

After Wallace was convicted for Preston's murder in April, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement: "A young mother finally losing her life after years of violence at the hands of her husband is a heart-wrenching tragedy. 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. 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 are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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