Glasgow Announces Jury Finds Watson Guilty in 2019 Fatal Stabbing at Harrah’s Casino Hotel in Joliet

May 12, 2023 JOLIET—Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that a jury today found Robert Watson, 29, of Joliet, guilty in the brutal 2019 killing of a 76-year-old Wisconsin man in the hotel of Harrah’s Casino in Joliet. The jury rendered its verdict following an 8-day trial before Circuit Judge David Carlson, finding Watson guilty on all four counts of First Degree Murder. The jury also found Watson mentally ill, which will not affect his serving his ultimate prison sentence.

On March 24, 2019, Watson fatally stabbed Emanual Burgarino in the fifth-floor hallway of the Harrah’s Casino hotel. Witness Glenn Hill testified that Watson had followed him into the elevator and exited with him on the fifth floor of the hotel. Because Hill had an uncomfortable feeling about Watson, he rode back down when Watson departed the elevator on the fifth floor. He then rode back up and, not seeing Watson, went to his room. A few minutes later, he heard a commotion in the hallway. When he opened his door, Hill saw Watson attacking Burgarino. After seeing Hill, Watson ran down the hallway and into the stairwell, exiting through a secure door on the first floor that tripped a casino alarm. Burgarino had been stabbed 26 times and died from injuries sustained as a result of the multiple stab wounds. Burgarino had been carrying a large amount of cash, and evidence showed that he had been pepper sprayed before the violent attack.

Police officers found a trail of blood in the stairwell. The following day, police located a bloody knife, articles of Watson’s clothing including striped pants, and bloody latex gloves in a bush at 311 N. Ottawa Street near the Joliet Housing Authority in downtown Joliet. They also found Watson’s backpack at a condemned house at 350 North Ottawa Street in which Watson had been staying. Watson was arrested later that day at the Joliet Public Library’s Ottawa Street Branch. The victim’s blood was found on the Air Jordan gym shoes Watson was wearing at the time of the arrest, as well as on the knife, the striped pants and a sweatshirt he had been wearing, and a pair of latex gloves that video surveillance had captured Watson taking before the murder from a cart located inside a Harrah’s Casino stairwell. Watson had pepper spray in his possession at the time he was arrested.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 31. The sentencing range is 20 to 100 years to be served at 100 percent.

Glasgow commended Assistant State’s Attorneys Tom Slazyk and William Lite, Director of Victim Witness Services Nichole Pasteris, Technical Specialist Albert Bailey, Legal Secretary Danna Thayer, and the Joliet Police Department for their outstanding work in this matter.