Grace Beahm // The Post and Courier

Chesley Black, who is charged in the killing of his wife, Amanda Kalman Black, is escorted by sheriff’s officers into the Charleston County Judicial Center for a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Her 4-year-old daughter broke the news: "Daddy killed Mommy."

That chilling message led the girl's relative to call authorities, who found that Amanda Kalman Black had bled to death the day before on a bathroom floor near her children.

More than a dozen of Black's family and friends filed into a courtroom Thursday in North Charleston to try to get some idea of what could have gone so wrong.

They listened as a Charleston County sheriff's detective testified that Chesley C.J. Black Jr., who is charged with the killing, told investigators that he stabbed his wife after an argument over money.

Forewarned to remain calm during the testimony, the family and friends made no sound as Detective Mitchell Wilson laid out the case for the judge.

The detective testified that on Sept. 9, investigators went to the Blacks' West Ashley home when the relative in St. George called 911 after the couple's daughter said, "Daddy killed Mommy."

Inside, investigators found 25-year-old Amanda Kalman Black dead on the downstairs bathroom floor, Wilson said, a knife near her body. Officials located 29-year-old Chesley Black Jr. in Sumter about midnight.

When Wilson and another detective interviewed him at the jail there, Black said he and his wife had gotten into an argument over money on Sept. 8, that he stabbed her and that he put her body in the bathroom to keep their children away, Wilson said.

The next day, he dropped off Audri, their 4-year-old daughter, at his sister-in-law's home and Khloe, their 2-year-old daughter, at his mother's home.

After lawyers on both sides asked questions, Charleston County Magistrate James B. Gosnell decided that the case against Black should proceed. Following the judge's ruling, deputies fanned out from a corner of the room to the rows of seating, separating Amanda's family and friends from Black's path out.

Amanda's uncle, Don Gresh, said after the hearing that he considered his niece more of a daughter, since her father died when she was 12. Gresh and his wife now care for the Blacks' daughters who, he said, are back in school and dance classes.

"She loved her babies more than anything," Gresh said of his niece. "Her babies were her life. That's the saddest part."

Beverlie Holcomb, Amanda's older sister whose husband called 911, said her brother-in-law worked for her family's company, Mighty Mower Landscaping, and that the attack still shocks her.

Holcomb said she and her brother-in-law stopped speaking for a time, but that he had worked to earn his family's acceptance back.

"He was a friend," Holcomb said, wondering aloud why he didn't cry during the hearing.