William Wallace, 39, was accused of killing his wife, then propping her body on their couch while her kids opened presents on Christmas morning.
Prosecutors said Wallace “used blunt force trauma to the head of his wife, Za'Zell Preston, 26, rendering her unconscious” between Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, 2011.
Prosecutors said neighbors heard Preston and Wallace yelling that night. Wallace reportedly told Preston's family they were "drinking and during the argument I tossed her around a bit," the Orange County Register reported.
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, the OCDA’s Office said.
On Christmas morning, Wallace brought Preston's dead body from the bedroom into the living room and put sunglasses on her.
Wallace allegedly told the kids, "Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas,” the Register reported.
At about 9:30 that morning, Wallace called 911 to report Preston was in need of medical attention. She was hospitalized, where she was pronounced dead.
Wallace had previously spent time in jail for beating Preston, the OCDA’s Office said. Za’Zell Preston was taking college classes to become a domestic violence counselor.
Wallace faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison at his June 4 sentencing.