Tasha Lucia’s loved ones cried into tissues as a detective testified Wednesday that the 25-year-old’s boyfriend choked her with his hands, bludgeoned her with a hammer and stabbed her 15 times with a butcher knife.

Charges of murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime against Robert Tilghman Kronsberg, 30, of James Island, will head to trial, Magistrate James Gosnell ruled in a North Charleston courtroom.

During a probable-cause hearing, Charleston police Detective Richard Holmes said the confrontation started as an argument about “sexual genitals” early Feb. 10 inside the couple’s home on Encampment Court. Between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., the fight got physical.

“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.”

At some point Lucia was hit with a hammer, which cut her face, Holmes testified.

Just after the killing, Holmes said, Kronsberg covered Lucia’s body with a blanket and sent a text message to a friend to say that he had killed her. The friend didn’t call police because he didn’t want to get involved with the crime, the detective added.

The scene wasn’t discovered until about 5 p.m. that day.

Concerned because she hadn’t reported for her bartending job in Folly Beach, co-workers crawled through a window, peeled off the sheet over Lucia’s body and saw the knife still stuck in her chest, the detective said.

The hammer was on the floor by her side. Blood was splattered throughout the apartment.

Kronsberg was found asleep in a bedroom. Police officers found vodka, marijuana, a 3-inch cut on his wrist and another knife on a bedside table. They also came across a notebook, but Holmes didn’t discuss its contents during his testimony.

Kronsberg was mumbling and incoherent as officers tried to wake him.

His public defender, Charles Cochran, asked the detective whether his client was high on cocaine at the time of the killing. Holmes was not sure, he said.

Kronsberg was treated at Medical University Hospital, where police questioned him. “Knowing what he did to Tasha,” he had tried to kill himself by taking sleeping pills, Holmes recalled the suspect saying.

After Wednesday’s 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 was canceled, Cochran said. The reason was not known. Defendants typically do not attend preliminary hearings.

He remains behind bars without bail.

On Facebook, friends have said that Kronsberg had long battled inner demons. His profile page features a bloody chainsaw scene from the film “American Psycho.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.