SANTA ANA, Calif. – An Anaheim man was convicted today of second degree murder for killing his wife on Christmas in 2011 and then propping her body on the couch while the woman’s children opened Christmas presents. He had previously spent time in jail for beating his wife.
William Wallace, 39, of Anaheim, was indicted on one felony count of murder by a grand jury in 2012.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4, 2021. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life.
Between Dec. 24, 2011, and Dec. 25, 2011, Wallace used blunt force trauma to the head of his wife, Zazell Preston, 26, rendering her unconscious. The victim’s 3-year-old and 8-year-old daughters from a previous relationship and the couple’s 7-week-old son were in the apartment at the time.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 25, 2011, Wallace is accused of calling 911 to report that Preston was in need of medical attention. Responding Anaheim Police Department officers discovered the victim unresponsive. She was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Preston had been taking college classes in hopes of becoming a domestic violence counselor.
“A young mother finally losing her life after years of violence at the hands of her husband is a heart wrenching tragedy,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “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. Thankfully, Senior District Attorney Heather Brown fought for – and achieved – justice for Zazell Preston. 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.”
Victims of domestic violence can find help through the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and our community partners by visiting the Orange County District Attorney website at http://orangecountyda.org/howdoi/services/resources.asp
Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.