Robert Tilghman Kronsberg stabbed his live-in girlfriend 15 times with a butcher knife and bludgeoned her head with a hammer last month, a police detective testified during a preliminary hearing this morning.

Loved ones of his alleged victim, 25-year-old Tasha Lucia, cried after hearing that revelation in a North Charleston courtroom.

The case against the James Island man will proceed toward trial after Magistrate James Gosnell ruled that there was probable cause for prosecution.

The 30-year-old faces charges of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection with Lucia’s death.

Arrest affidavits state that Lucia, was killed between midnight and 2 a.m. on Feb. 10. Two friends, concerned after she did not show up for her bartending job on Folly Beach, went to her home and found her dead around 5 p.m., Charleston police said.

A large kitchen knife was still protruding from Lucia’s chest when a friend pulled a sheet from her body in a bedroom at her Encampment Court apartment, police said.

Kronsberg was found sleeping in another bedroom, police said. When officers woke him, they found vodka, marijuana, a 3-inch cut on his wrist and another knife on his bedside table. Kronsberg was mumbling and incoherent.

Charleston Police Department Detective Richard Holmes testified this morning that Kronsberg had started strangling Lucia during an argument about sex.

“After he strangled her, he was in the room and heard her gasping for air,” Holmes said. “He went in the kitchen and got a butcher knife and came back and stabbed her multiple times.”

Kronsberg later acknowledged the crime and said he had tried to kill himself by taking sleeping pills, Holmes said. He also texted a friend just after the slaying to report that he had killed his girlfriend, Holmes testified, but the friend didn’t call the police because he didn’t want to get involved.

Lucia’s body was found more than 12 hours later after her concerned co-workers showed up.

Kronsberg’s public defender, Charles Cochran, questioned the detective about whether his client was high on cocaine at the time of the killing. Holmes was not sure, he said.

After the hearing, Cochran declined to comment further, as did Kronsberg’s mother and Lucia’s loved ones.

Kronsberg had been scheduled to be present during the proceeding, but his appearance had been canceled, Cochran said. The reason was not immediately clear. Defendants typically do not show up for preliminary hearings.

Check back with postandcourier.com as more details become available.