Harrah’s Joliet Hotel Murderer Sentenced to 100 Years

Posted on: August 1, 2023, 02:05h. 

Last updated on: August 1, 2023, 11:31h.

A mentally ill homeless man was sentenced this week to 100 years in prison for murdering an elderly man in 2019 at the Harrah’s Joliet hotel in Illinois.

Robert A. Watson
Robert A. Watson, pictured in an Illinois courtroom. He was sentenced to 100 years in prison for a murder committed at Harrah’s Joliet. (Image: Shaw Local)

Robert A. Watson, 29, of Joliet, was given the maximum sentence on Monday, according to Chicago TV station WFLD.  He was found guilty of stabbing Emanual Burgarino, 76, of Hales Corners, Wis., 26 times on March 24, 2019, at the hotel.

Brgarino was knifed in his chest and neck and was attacked with pepper spray. He later was pronounced dead at Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.

In May, following an eight-day trial, Watson was found guilty of first-degree murder. Watson also was determined by the jury to have been suffering from mental illness.

His public defenders had tried to prove that he wasn’t guilty by reason of insanity and that he suffers from schizophrenia. Will County public defender Shenonda Tisdale said Watson was delusional at the time of the killing and may have believed Burgarino was “some sort of spirit.”

Watson must serve all of his sentence, but will be given credit for 1,590 days for the time he already spent in jail.

Evil Man

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow called Watson “evil incarnate” and said he will “punished for all eternity for this heinous murder.”

He savagely stabbed Emanual Burgarino in a ruthless, barbaric attack and left the elderly gentleman to suffer and die in a hotel hallway,” the prosecutor added. “His premeditation and his attempts to hide the bloody evidence shows that he knew exactly what he was doing and the consequences of his actions.”

During the trial, prosecution witness Glenn Hill testified that Watson had followed him into an elevator at the hotel and that he felt uncomfortable with Watson. Hill said he rode back down when Watson departed the elevator, before returning to his room on the fifth floor. Hill said he didn’t see Watson when he returned, but that he heard a commotion a few minutes later, and stepped into the hallway where he saw Watson attacking the victim.

Watson then fled from a hallway into a stairwell and ran out a first-floor door.

Bloody Clothes, Knife

The following day, police located a bloody knife, Watson’s clothes, and bloody latex gloves in a bush in Joliet. Watson’s backpack was later found at a condemned building where he had been staying. He was apprehended at the Joliet Public Library’s Ottawa Street Branch.

Burgarino’s blood was found on Watson’s shoes and clothes, as well as on the knife and gloves.

The motive behind the murder appears to have been robbery and the victim may have been chosen at random.

Civil Lawsuit

Burgarino’s girlfriend, Denise Dixon, sued Harrah’s owner Caesars Entertainment in civil court for negligence in 2021.

The case, which claimed Harrah’s employees failed to protect Burgarino, went to mediation and its outcome is still pending, according to court documents.