• Man handed 15 year to life sentence for the murder of Zazell Preston in 2011
  • Eldest daughter forced to help father pick up shards of glass after Preston was thrown onto a glass table
  • Man made it look like dead wife was drunk in front of kids when they opened their Christmas gifts in 2011

A 39-year-old Southern California man who killed his wife and propped up her body on a sofa in front of their children was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison.

In April, William Wallace was found guilty of second-degree murder by an Orange County Superior Court jury for killing his wife, 26-year-old Za’Zell Preston, in 2011, the Associated Press reported. Wallace repeatedly abused Preston during their marriage and had served jail time for beating her prior to the night he killed her.

Preston was fatally beaten on Dec. 24 or early Dec. 25 in 2011 by Wallace during an argument after they went to a neighbor’s Christmas Eve party, prosecutors said. Wallace then placed her body on the living room couch on Christmas morning and let their kids open their presents in front of her, authorities said.

At the time, Wallace and Preston were living in an apartment in Anaheim with their newborn son and Preston’s daughters, who were then 8 and 3 years old.

During the trial earlier this year, the older daughter, now 17, said Wallace and Preston were arguing when they returned from the party, and it quickly turned violent. The daughter said Wallace threw her mother onto a glass table and then asked the daughter to help him remove shards of glass from Preston’s body, the Orange County Register reported.

She added that Wallace took her mother's body to the bathroom, where he dropped Preston. Her mother's head allegedly hit the side of a toilet seat.

“After she hit the toilet, and I think she was passed away, he just took her to the bedroom and put her down to sleep while she was deceased,” Preston’s daughter said when she testified. “That is what I remember, because she was cold.”

The next day, William moved his dead wife from the bedroom to the sofa and put sunglasses on her. He told the kids, “Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas,” according to the prosecution.

According to prosecutors, Preston died as a result of repeated blows to the head. Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown stated that beating her in the head was the “kill zone,” KNBC reported.

“That’s why she’s dead. He hit her in the head over and over... all the injuries to her head killed her,” Brown said. "Even if you believe this was an accident, his failure to get medical attention is implied malice murder.''

The mother of Preston, who was studying to become a domestic violence counselor, also spoke at his sentencing hearing.

“He beat and tortured my daughter and at the same time mentally assassinated her children,” Saidell Preston said told the court. “He showed her no mercy. Let’s show him no mercy.”

Representational image. Pixabay