The daughter recalled what she saw that night and said she helped take glass pieces out of her mother's body.
Trigger warning: This story contains details of murder that might be distressing to some readers.
A man from California, William Wallace, turned Christmas into a living nightmare for a pair of little girls after forcing them to open Christmas presents in front of their mother's corpse. In the events that led up to the incident, the 39-year-old dockworker had gone to a Christmas Eve party at their neighbor's house with his wife, Za’Zell Preston. Once the couple got back home, they argued until William became physical and pushed Za’Zell into a glass table.
At the time, the couple's newborn son and Za’Zell's two daughters, then aged 3 and 8, were also in the house, according to The Orange County Register.
When Za’Zell's daughter spoke about what she saw that night, she revealed that she helped William pull out glass pieces from her mother's body during the fight. William then carried his wife's body to the bathroom but dropped her and knocked her head against the side of a toilet seat. The man later spoke to a family member and said, "we were drinking and during the argument I tossed her around a bit," according to the prosecutor.
A few hours after the argument, William dragged Za’Zell's body to the living room on Christmas morning and propped her on the couch. He then placed sunglasses on her face, according to The Associated Press. "Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas," William told the kids. Za’Zell's two daughters opened their Christmas presents while their mother's dead body was on the couch just a few feet away. When paramedics arrived at the scene, they found Za’Zell's body slumped on the couch. Years after Za’Zell's death in December 2011, William was sentenced at a hearing on Friday, June 4, 2021.
During the sentencing hearing, Za’Zell's mother described William as a psychopath with a very short temper. "He beat and tortured my daughter and at the same time mentally assassinated her children," the mother, Saidell Preston, said. "He showed her no mercy. Let’s show him no mercy." If Za’Zell hadn't lost her life in such tragic circumstances, she would have graduated from Cypress College in a few weeks.
Saidell added, "William Wallace robbed us of her knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Za’Zell was an amazing and talented young woman, until (he) came along and took her from us forever." William was known to be controlling and violent towards his wife on different occasions. Previously, he had served jail time for beating her up, according to New York Post. On one occasion that took place before her death, Za’Zell was found lying in the street in the fetal position after William allegedly beat her up. On another occasion, Za’Zell hid from William in the bathroom of a convenience store and called up a family member for help. Currently, William is sentenced to 15 years to life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder.
Cover image credit: Orange County Police