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An Anaheim, California man who killed his wife and then sat her dead body up on a sofa while her kids opened Christmas presents has been given a sentence of 15-years-to-life in prison for that morbid crime. 

William Wallace, who’s now 39 years old, had been convicted earlier in 2021 for the second-degree murder of 26-year-old Za’Zell Preston. The pair’s relationship was reportedly marred by continuous instances of domestic violence, culminating in Preston’s death in 2011.

During Wallace’s Friday sentencing hearing, Preston’s mother insisted he be given a major punishment for what he did. 

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

Saidell, who’s since become the guardian for her late daughter’s three kids, said that Za’Zell was studying domestic violence, and had hoped to become a counselor. 

“William Wallace robbed us of her knowledge, wisdom, and understanding,” Saidell added. “Za’Zell was an amazing and talented young woman, until (he) came along and took her from us forever.”

Wallace and Preston had returned to their Anaheim apartment after attending a neighbor’s party on Christmas Eve 2011. Also living in the apartment was their newborn son, and Preston’s three-and-eight-year-old daughters.

During the trial, Wallace’s oldest daughter said the couple was arguing when Wallace pushed Preston into a glass table. The daughter says she pulled pieces of glass from her mother’s body, and that Wallace carried Preston into the bathroom to clean her up. She adds that he dropped her, and that she hit her head on the side of the toilet as a result. She also added that her mom’s body was cold when Wallace picked her up. 

She says that shortly afterward, on Christmas morning, Wallace dragged Preston’s body into the living room and propped it up on the couch before telling her and her three-year-old sister to open gifts. Prosecutors say he told the kids “Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas.”

Preston’s relatives stated during the trial that there had been previous arguments that involved domestic abuse. They said Wallace had threatened to kill Preston several times. Lorri Galloway, an executive director for a home for abused women and children, says Preston had tried to get away from Wallace. 

“She desperately tried but was savagely beaten and murdered before she could,” Galloway wrote.

Wallace’s attorney argued that her client didn’t try to kill Preston, and claimed he wasn’t responsible for the injuries she sustained during what she classified as a drunken argument. 

Wallace has been credited for serving more than nine years behind bars while awaiting trial. He did not speak at Friday’s hearing.