WARNING - DISTRESSING DETAILS: A man on trial for his wife's murder allegedly propped her body up on the couch and made her young children open Christmas presents in front of her.
“This Christmas story does not have a happy ending," Heather Brown, senior deputy district attorney in Orange County, said on Monday as the trial began for William Wallace, from California, the Orange County Register reported.
"And unfortunately this is not just a story, it is real life.”
Za'Zell Preston, 26, was taking college classes in hopes of becoming a domestic violence counsellor when she was killed in 2011 by a man who already had served jail time for beating her, the paper said.
Brown said the couple went to a neighbour's Christmas Eve party and later that night, another neighbour heard the two of them having an argument.
Wallace told a member of Preston's family that “we were drinking and during the argument I tossed her around a bit,” the prosecutor said.
Brown said the next morning, 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.”
When paramedics arrived at the scene, Preston was slumped over the couch.
She left behind a newborn son and two daughters who were aged three and eight at the time.
Wallace's attorney argued Preston died from injuries when she tripped and fell into a glass table, shattering it, while drunk.
“Mr. Wallace is being accused of something that is not his fault,” Heather Moorhead told jurors. “You will hear about a relationship that was full of arguing and yelling, but also a lot of love.”
Wallace, 39, could face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
- with AP
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