Wisconsin Man Gets Life for Ho-Chunk Casino Murder

Posted on: December 2, 2020, 01:37h. 

Last updated on: December 2, 2020, 03:00h.

A gambler accused of stabbing an 88-year-old man to death outside the Ho-Chunk casino in Baraboo apologized to the victim’s family shortly before he was sentenced to life Tuesday.

Robert Pulvermacher
Robert Pulvermacher appears in Sauk County Circuit Court shortly after his capture in January last year. Pulvermacher was sentenced to life in prison this week. (Image: Tim Damos/News Republic)

Robert Pulvermacher, 70, admitting killing Harold Johnson in January 2019 after the latter attempted to collect a gambling debt of just $100.

Security footage in the casino parking lot showed both men enter Johnson’s car. But only Pulvermacher got out. He returned to the casino to play blackjack for a further seven hours before obtaining a ride to his home in Middleton, 40 miles away. He paid the driver $100.

Johnson’s body was discovered the next day. He had been stabbed five times, twice in the neck.

Pulvermacher Apologies, Enters No Contest Plea

“The only thing that I can say is I’m sorry it happened,” Pulvermacher told Johnson’s family in Sauk County Circuit Court, as reported by Baraboo News Republic. “There’s no reason it happened. It had no logical sense to it. I’m sorry, that’s all I can say.”

Pulvermacher was caught breaking into a business in Madison a week after the murder, following a manhunt. He had been sleeping outdoors for several days. His trial was delayed for ten months after he contracted COVID-19 in jail.

He entered a plea of no contest before his sentencing Tuesday.

Pulvermacher’s defense attorneys, David Susens and Leonie Dolch, said their client had suffered severe health problems, including a heart attack and stroke, which had led to neurological issues.

Pulvermacher had no recollection of killing Johnson, they claimed and had expressed remorse. He wanted to take responsibility for his actions, they added.

Prison Break

Dolch said Pulvermacher’s life had changed dramatically in the early 1990s when he became a gambling addict and drifted into theft and burglary. In 1997, he escaped from a federal prison near Duluth, Minn. During his recapture about a week later, he wrestled a gun away from a police officer in Adams, Wisc., and tried to take another officer hostage.

Despite this, his brother, Charlie Pulvermacher, claimed he was not normally a violent man.

To be quite honest… Bob has respect for the old folks,” Charlie Pulvermacher told 27 News last year, as his brother was being sought for Johnson’s killing. “Bob’s an odd duck. But violent, he’s not.”

At sentencing, Judge Michael Screnock was unmoved by the defense’s pleas for leniency.

“Mr. Pulvermacher has said it himself. I think it’s fair to say everyone in the room would agree that what happened to Mr. Johnson doesn’t make sense,” Screnock said. “It is impossible to make sense of the suffering that Mr. Johnson went through.”