Harrah’s Joliet Hotel Murderer Sentenced to 100 Years

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Posted on: August 1, 2023, 02:05h. 

Last updated on: August 1, 2023, 02:05h.

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. (Image: Shaw Local)

Robert A. Watson, 29, of Joliet, was given the maximum sentence on Monday, according to Chicago TV station WFLD.

He stabbed Emanual Burgarino, 76, of Hales Corners, Wis., 26 times on March 24, 2019 at the hotel.

He 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 was not guilty by reason of insanity. He had schizophrenia, defense lawyers argued.

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.”

But Watson must serve all of his sentence. He 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 “will be 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, Glenn Hill testified he saw Watson attacking the victim on the fifth floor of the hotel, located southwest of Chicago.

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 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 also 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.

Burgarino was staying at the hotel. He had owned a sports bar.

Civil Lawsuit

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

The case claimed Harrah’s employees failed to protect Burgarino.

The case went to mediation. But as of June 2022, the parties failed to agree on a settlement, according to court documents.

It appears the case is pending.


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