Video: Exclusive Prison Interview

msnbc.com
updated 8/23/2005 12:01:58 PM ET 2005-08-23T16:01:58

In another 'Live and Direct' exclusive, Monday, the show landed the first television interview with the housewife accused of stabbing her own husband to death.  Susan Polk is on trial right now, get this, she may end up defending herself in court.  That means she'd have to cross-examine the prosecution's star witness, her own son.

Late Monday, she talked to Rita from her California jail.

To read an excerpt of the conversation between Cosby and Polk, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

SUSAN POLK, ON TRIAL FOR MURDERING HER HUSBAND:  We were discussing the divorce and our situation, and I think that he realized the inevitability of our being divorced.  And he, in the process of the conversation, snapped, attacked me.  I sprayed him with pepper spray in the face, which enraged him.  I couldn't get out of the room, and he dragged me and threw me on the floor by the hair and pulled a knife and began to stab at me.  And I did the only thing that I could think of doing to survive.

COSBY:  Now, a lot of people are saying you stabbed him 27 times.  How that be self-defense?  Explain to us what was going on through your mind.

POLK:  Who is saying that?  That concerns me.  The coroner's report does not say that he was stabbed 27 times.  I think what happened is that the district attorney has constantly thrown out a number that is dramatic and would rule out self-defense in the minds of most reasonable people, myself included.  It's not true.  He was not stabbed 27 times, and the coroner testified at the grand jury that he was stabbed five or six times.

COSBY:  You endured a lot of abuse domestically.  Tell us how tough it was to be in that household, Susan.

POLK:  What began to happen is that when I knew I wanted a divorce, he would, every time he saw me, just go after me physically.  He usually didn't leave bruises.  Sometimes I'd get hit in the face.  Sometimes I'd have black eyes.  Sometimes I'd have bruises.  But mostly, he would just push me around and chase me around the house, and I'd run away.  And if he had anything in his hands, he'd throw it in my face or throw furniture or, you know, silverware.  It was just this constant haranguing from him.

COSBY:  Did you believe that night that you were going to die?

POLK:  Well, I think anybody who is thrown on the floor and has somebody on top of them who-particularly someone who weighs -- he weighed 170 pounds and I was 110.  Anybody in that position, where the attacker is stabbing at them with a knife is going to think they're going to die.  I absolutely thought, 'My life is going to end here unless I do something right now to defend myself.'

COSBY:  Speaking of defending yourself, right now, you're listed as your own attorney.

POLK:  Yes.

COSBY:  If it remains that way, how will you feel about it?  Are you ready for it?

POLK:  Absolutely.  A defendant who defends themselves actually gives the jury a chance to see who they really are.  And if you think about it, in most trials, you don't get that chance.  What you see is the picture that's painted by the district attorney and by the defense attorney.  And often, the defendant never testifies.  But if I'm handling my own defense, I believe that the jury will know who I am.

On the other hand, I'm scared to death.  I don't think I can do as well as an attorney, and I don't feel that I'm smarter than attorneys.  I don't have that feeling at all.  But I feel that I have to get this trial to an end for the sake of my children.

They want to know what's going to happen.  They want it over.  And I have to go forward.

COSBY:  As playing the role of the attorney, you're going to have to question one of your own sons.  Are you ready for that?

POLK:  Yes.

COSBY:  He's the one who found your husband's body.

POLK:  Well, I'm actually skeptical that he found my husband's body.

How I do feel about questioning him?  I haven't spoken to my son for three years, so I'm looking forward to seeing him, but I'm sorry that it's in that setting.

COSBY:  Well, Susan, thank you very much for being with us.  We're going to be watching your case closely.

POLK:  Thank you.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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