updated 10/23/2005 4:41:52 PM ET 2005-10-23T20:41:52

Guests: Tom DeLay, Tom Strong, Henry Lee, Rod Wheeler, Nick Piper, Stevie Wonder

RITA COSBY, HOST:  And hello, everybody.  We‘re coming to you live and direct right now from Houston, Texas, where I have just wrapped up my exclusive interview with former Majority Leader Tom DeLay. 

We interviewed him here in Houston, because this is his home district.  He talks about everything from his criminal charges, to that infamous mug shot that looks more like a glamour shot, and his advice to Karl Rove on the White House leak scandal.  It‘s a revealing and no-holds-barred interview.  And will not see it anywhere else. 

And we are going to have that interview in just a few minutes.

But, first, we just want to give you a quick update on monster Hurricane Wilma. 

Just a short time ago, the fierce storm made landfall in Mexico, bringing pounding winds and heavy rains to the tourist town of Cancun.  And it‘s still expected to head towards the U.S. coast.  We‘re hoping, in just a few minutes, we are going to have a reporter in Cancun, Mexico, for the very latest on that. 

But, first, I want to show my very first interview.  This is a really interesting exclusive interview with embattled former Majority Leader Tom DeLay.  He‘s very feisty.  He‘s very honest and also very revealing. 

The former House majority leader sat down with me just a few hours ago for his first interview.  It‘s the first one now since his famous mug shot and since appearing in court today on felony charges.  He‘s accused of money-laundering and conspiracy.  And those charges could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

But he told me he‘s 100 percent innocent and the charges are all driven by his political opponents, who are determined to bring him down. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  How did you feel when you found out there was a warrant out for your arrest?

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER:  Well, I was a little disappointed. 

It‘s not like I was running anywhere, if I could.  And we were more than willing to comply with what I—the responsibilities are—was—what—demanded on me.  And—but they—we know why they‘re doing this.  They wanted that mug shot.  They wanted a perp walk.  And they got the mug shot.

COSBY:  Were you surprised that, all of a sudden, going from majority leader to a wanted man?

(LAUGHTER)

DELAY:  Not really.  This politics of personal destruction has been going on for a long time.  The Democrats have no agenda.  Their only agenda is trying to destroy people‘s reputation and families, and they‘re working very hard to do that.

I understand what it‘s about.  It‘s not about me.  It‘s—it‘s—

They can‘t beat us at the ballot.  They can‘t beat us in the legislative bodies.  All they‘ve got left are the courts and these renegade prosecutors.

COSBY:  Why do you believe this DA is so out to get you?

DELAY:  Well, I helped the Republicans gain the Texas House of Representatives.  I helped elect the first Republican speaker of the House since Reconstruction.

COSBY:  Do you believe he‘s out to get you personally?

DELAY:  Oh, no doubt about it, and—and pay me back for redistricting the congressional districts in Texas.  We were successful at that. 

And we were successful at electing more Republicans, so that now the congressional delegation has a good majority of Republicans.

COSBY:  But you seem to feel you are target number one.

DELAY:  Well, I don‘t know about that.  You Will have to ask them who IS their number one target.  But, certainly, I‘ve been very visible as of late. 

And when you‘re indicted on baseless charges, you‘ve got to—I‘m—

I‘m not paranoid.  I‘m not a victim.  I understand what this is all about.  But we‘re not going to—we are not going to take it.  We‘re going to find back.

We‘re not going to allow a renegade prosecutor to undermine our

justice system.  This is—this is about undermining our criminal justice

system.  This is about undermining our representative government.  This is

this is about undermining our grand jury system.  This—this is very serious stuff.

COSBY:  What was going through your mind when they actually booked you?   Here you have to go to a sheriff‘s department, got the mug shot, got the fingerprints.  It‘s got to be humiliating.

DELAY:  Well, it‘s not fun, I got to tell you.  It‘s enough to make sure you don‘t do anything to break the law to get there.  It‘s—it‘s not fun.  It‘s very serious.  It‘s very grim.

It‘s—you‘re thrown in basically with people that have been arrested for various reasons—reasons.  They‘re all in inmate suits and all that kind of stuff.  And, yes, it‘s a little humiliating.

COSBY:  Embarrassing, too?

DELAY:  A little embarrassing, yes.  I—I don‘t recommend it to anybody.

COSBY:  Yes. 

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Nor for yourself, either, right?

DELAY:  Exactly.  Yes. 

COSBY:  The mug shot, the famous mug shot now. 

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  You‘re smiling in it.

DELAY:  Yes.

COSBY:  Why?

DELAY:  Well, that‘s how I feel.  I mean, this—this is not getting me down.  I have a certain sense of peace and—and joy about this.  I mean, I‘m not happy about it.  It‘s not fun.

This—this fight is—is hard.  And—and it‘s very hard on my family.  But I know what this is about.  And—and I haven‘t done anything wrong, and I know I haven‘t done anything wrong.  So, it doesn‘t get me down.

COSBY:  Was it also so the Democrats and others couldn‘t use it in an ad against you or the Republicans?

DELAY:  Well, there‘s a certain amount of that.  If you‘re...

COSBY:  A little bit of an intentional grin?

DELAY:  Well, I wasn‘t going to get—I was going to make sure that I was smiling, you know, when the picture was taken.

COSBY:  It was intentional?

DELAY:  You only get one take.

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Intentional take?

DELAY:  Intentional, certainly, yes.

COSBY:  You‘re also wearing the congressional pin that I see you‘re wearing now.  Was that to send a statement to your colleagues?

DELAY:  Not to my colleagues, but to the American people.  I‘m a member of Congress, a member of Congress that is being treated this way, a member of Congress that is having his reputation drug through the mud, his character being questioned.  And—and people ought to understand that.

COSBY:  They call you “The Hammer.”   You have had a lot of nicknames.  

After the mug shot, are you getting any new nicknames?

DELAY:  Oh, the blogs are doing a lot with the mug shot, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Is there a nickname that you kind of chuckle at them?

DELAY:  Maybe—maybe I ought—maybe I ought to start selling mugs with the mug shot on it.

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Do you think we‘re going to see that face a lot?

DELAY:  Oh, you already are.  They‘re selling T-shirts, especially my enemies.  They‘re using it all over the place.  They‘re doctoring it up.  Yes, they‘re—they‘re trying their best to—to make it look as bad as possible. 

COSBY:  You know, the thought...

DELAY:  It‘s hard to do, though.

COSBY:  Well, the thought of you being—quote—“a wanted man” with an arrest warrant, did you ever think in your life it would come to that?

DELAY:  I didn‘t think—I really—you know, I‘ve got the utmost respect for Democrats that believe in what they‘re doing and stand up and fight for what they believe in.  I don‘t have a whole lot of respect for people that want to personalize and criminalize politics.  And that‘s what this is about.

I really didn‘t—I have never really believed that politics would come to this point, this low point.  And I think it‘s really unfortunate.  But, when we get through this, and I‘m exonerated, people will know what this is all about and people will know that these prosecutors need to be held accountable.

COSBY:  Are you in the political fight of your life right now?

DELAY:  I guess you could say that. 

(LAUGHTER)

DELAY:  It‘s—it‘s—I‘ve got some very tough enemies.  And we‘re -

we are trying to make a statement.  I‘m going to stand up for what I believe in.  Nobody‘s going to intimidate me and keep me from fighting for what I believe in.  And—and nobody‘s going to intimidate me and keep me from fighting for the rule of law, for our criminal justice system, for our political system.

And—and I won‘t give up.  And—and that‘s probably where they underestimated me.

COSBY:  These charges are serious.

DELAY:  Very serious.

COSBY:  You could face life in prison.

DELAY:  Yes.

COSBY:  Are you worried at all?  I mean, isn‘t there just a shred of doubt, even though you believe it‘s political, what if the case doesn‘t go my way?

DELAY:  Oh, it—listen, this is so over the top.  I mean, I have been charged with a law that doesn‘t exist.  I mean, can you imagine that?

The law that I—the money-laundering and the conspiracy in 2002 didn‘t exist, as it applies to the election code.  So, I—look, I‘m very confident that we‘re going to be exonerated.

They have nothing.  They have no evidence.  They don‘t—they don‘t even have the law on their side.  So, I—the facts and the law will—will shine here.  And Ronnie Earle will be shown for what he is.

COSBY:  And what is he?

DELAY:  He‘s a renegade prosecutor that uses the criminal justice system to criminalize politics.

COSBY:  Is there any chance at all that you think you could go to jail?

DELAY:  None at all.

COSBY:  Zero percent?

DELAY:  Zero.

COSBY:  How painful...

DELAY:  All they wanted to do—to be honest with you, all they wanted to do is indict me, because they knew that I had to step aside, because the Republicans—not the Democrats—the Republicans had a rule that said, if you‘re indicted, you have to step aside from the leadership position.

That‘s all they cared—that‘s why, in the indictment, not only am I indicted for a law that doesn‘t exist, they don‘t say anything in the indictment what—what part I played in this scenario.  They just wanted the indictment. 

And they got it.  They won that round.  We‘ll win the others.

COSBY:  Regardless of how you feel the outcome is, it could be a long road ahead.  How painful has this been for you personally and for your family?

DELAY:  Oh, it hasn‘t been painful for us.  My wife is—is one wonderful woman.  She and I have been—I mean, we are high—we are high school sweethearts.  We‘ve been through a lot together.  She supports what I‘m fighting for and what I believe in.

COSBY:  But is this one of the worst periods for you?

DELAY:  Well, you know, the worst—I don‘t know.  It‘s—it‘s not a good time.  My wife is a fighter, and—and she has to stand on the sidelines and watch all this go on.  And that‘s—that‘s kind of hard.

But she also knows what this is all about.  And she‘s very supportive in my understanding of what it‘s all about.  And she‘s very supportive of fighting back.

COSBY:  Your team has asked the judge to step aside, saying that too Democratic, has too many Democratic ties.  Why do you think that that‘s critical?

DELAY:  Well, we want an impartial judge.

COSBY:  Do you feel he will not be?

DELAY:  I—well, obviously, we have—we have filed a motion to recuse himself, because his contribution level—his contributions to political organizations, and candidates, and MoveOn.org, and—and to the former speaker of the House, Pete Laney‘s political action committee, and all those kinds of things, that is so unusual by a judge, that it just doesn‘t look right. 

And—and it makes you question whether he can be impartial or not.  There‘s plenty of other good judges out there that can give us a fair trial.

COSBY:  Do you think you‘ll win that?  Do you think you‘ll get a new judge?

DELAY:  Oh, I know we will.

COSBY:  You do?

(CROSSTALK)

DELAY:  Absolutely.  I mean, this is so over the top. 

When you—when you see his contributions, compared to other judges and how they get involved in politics, it‘s like night and day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And we are going to have a lot more from Tom DeLay in just a minute.  I asked him if he would ever consider stepping down.  Wait until you hear what he said about that. 

And Hurricane Wilma is pounding Mexico right now.  Will it be a Category 4 when it moves towards Florida?  We will talk to a hurricane hunter who flew right through the eye of the storm.  He‘s going to join me live. 

Also, for the first time, we‘re seeing the 16-year-old accused of brutally kill the wife of a famous attorney—defense attorney.  What could have driven him to commit this horrible crime?  I‘m going ask a former classmate of his in an exclusive interview. 

And, later, one of my favorites, singing sensation Stevie Wonder, is going to join us live.  He‘s going to set the record straight about whether he‘s trying a new experiment to see again.  Plus, he talks about his first album in 10 years. 

It‘s ahead, “LIVE & DIRECT.”  You got to stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And we‘re back now live in Houston, Texas, with more of my exclusive and revealing interview with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. 

It‘s his very first since being booked on felony charges that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.  DeLay says he‘s ready to fight the charges with every breath he has and he will not let his political opponents take him down. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  A trial date hasn‘t been set.  It may not even go to trial. 

But, should it go to trial, this could drag on for who knows how long.  Some people are saying, for the good of your party, maybe you should step down.  Maybe it‘s too much of a distraction.

DELAY:  I think this is for the good of our party. 

The Democrats, as I said, have no agenda.  We have a bold, aggressive agenda going on right now in the House of Rep—in the House of Representatives.  All—the only agenda the Democrats have is this politics of personal destruction.  If we let them get away with this and don‘t hold these people accountable, then the Republicans lose, the people of America lose.  And we‘re just not going to allow that to happen.

COSBY:  So, you‘re saying, there‘s no way you would step down for the good of your party, if that were to be suggested?

DELAY:  No way.

COSBY:  No way?  You‘re not going anywhere.

DELAY:  I‘m going to stick at this.  I‘m going to stand and fight.

COSBY:  Until the bitter end?

DELAY:  Until whatever the end brings.

COSBY:  Is there anyone who could replace you in Congress?  Are you irreplaceable? 

DELAY:  No.

COSBY:  You did such an effective job.

DELAY:  No.  Anybody could.  I mean, you‘ve got 232 wonderful Republicans, all of them leaders in their own right.

COSBY:  Who would be a good replacement?

DELAY:  Oh, I don‘t know.  There‘s—I‘m not going to get into that.  There‘s—there‘s plenty of great leaders in—in our conference.  No one is indispensable, and no one is irreplaceable.

So, we will—we will do just fine.  And we‘re doing just fine, even though I‘ve had to step aside. 

COSBY:  The new indictment against you has charges of money-laundering...

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  ... also conspiracy.  Did you do any of this?

DELAY:  Well, let me just correct you a minute.  It‘s money-laundering and conspiracy to violate the election code.  The real charges is on the Texas election code.  It‘s not...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Did you violate the code?

DELAY:  No, I did not violate the code.  First of all, I wasn‘t involved.  I wasn‘t involved in the day-to-day operation of TRMPAC.  I was on the advisory board. 

And these two young men that actually ran TRMPAC checked everything with lawyers and accountants.  So, everything was done exactly according to the law.  Ronnie Earle is making up baseless charges that actually didn‘t happen.

COSBY:  You were forced to resign as Majority leader.  Personally, how...

DELAY:  Step aside.

COSBY:  Step aside. 

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  How heartbreaking was that for you?

DELAY:  Oh, it didn‘t really bother me.

COSBY:  You loved that job.

DELAY:  I—no.  I love what we‘re doing.  The—the titles don‘t mean anything.  I love what we‘re doing.  The Republican...

COSBY:  Are you still the Majority leader, sort of in the background?

DELAY:  No.

I—the Republican majority for the last 11 years have been doing some historic, incredible things.  I‘m very proud of that record.  I‘m proud I had a part to play in it, and I‘m looking forward to continuing it.

COSBY:  If everything is cleared, do you plan to be majority leader again?

DELAY:  If I‘m cleared, I have the right to step back into the majority leader position, yes.

COSBY:  Do you want to do it?

DELAY:  Absolutely.

COSBY:  No questions?

DELAY:  No question.

COSBY:  In 2006, all the House seats are up are up for grabs.  The last election, you won by 55 percent.  That‘s a fairly tight race.  Do you think you‘ll get reelected?

DELAY:  That‘s up to my constituents.

COSBY:  Do you feel like you will?

DELAY:  I don‘t know.  I mean, I‘m not worried about it.  You know, I know what this is all about.  My—my constituents know what this is all about.  And if they want me to continue the work that I‘ve been doing for them and for the nation, they‘ll send me back.

COSBY:  Karl Rove and Scooter Libby have, of course, been front row and center.  What do you think is going to happen with that investigation?

DELAY:  I have no idea. 

You know, everybody is speculating about that.  The investigation is ongoing.  Whatever happens will happen.  And—and Karl Rove will have to deal with it, and the president will have to deal with it.

I know Karl Rove.  I know that he did—he‘s never intentionally violated the law.  I also know, though, these investigations, because I‘ve been dealing with them, can always sully your reputation, because, sometimes, these overactive investigators, when they find nothing wrong, then they try to find something else, like perjury or obstruction of justice, just so that they can have something.

And that‘s what‘s happening in this process.  This criminalization of politics and elections is incredibly dangerous to our—our democracy.

COSBY:  If he or Scooter Libby is indicted, if Karl Rove or Scooter Libby is indicted, should they step aside...

DELAY:  That‘s up...

COSBY:  ... as you did?

DELAY:  No, that‘s up to the president. 

You know, I don‘t think they will be indicted.  But they serve at the will of the president.  And the president will have to make that decision.

COSBY:  Are you worried at all about all these things going on with you, being such a central figure in the halls of Congress, how that will affect the White House, if this drags on?

DELAY:  No, because, to be honest with you—and now you are really going to think I‘m crazy—I think, because we have such a bold, aggressive agenda, the president has shown more leadership.  The Democrats have no agenda.  The Democrats have this ethics agenda. 

And if I can show what they‘re all about and show the American people that this politics of personal destruction is not helpful for the nation, I think I can—I can destroy their credibility.  So, then, they have nothing.  We could have a very robust election in 2006.

COSBY:  And could we see a Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2006?

DELAY:  I hope so.

COSBY:  What advice would you give to Karl Rove, who is going through the same thing as you?

(LAUGHTER)

DELAY:  Well, depend on your faith.  That will get you through.

COSBY:  What do you think your legacy is going to be, a fighter to the bitter end?

DELAY:  Well, I think—I hope my legacy is, we turned this country around, away from the liberals‘ world view, and set it on the right course, a course that is underwritten by the Constitution of the United States.

COSBY:  You still believe in the political process?

DELAY:  Absolutely.  Absolutely, especially when you have the opportunity to stop those that try to undermine it.

COSBY:  Majority Leader DeLay, thank you very much. 

DELAY:  Thank you, Rita. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And, incidentally, it‘s expected to cost DeLay at least $2 million just this year alone in legal bills.

Meanwhile, district attorney Ronnie Earle, who is a Democrat, defends his prosecution of DeLay.  He says—quote—“We don‘t live in a country where political party determines the measure of justice.”  He has also said that he prosecuted four times as many Democrats as Republicans.

And, as for DeLay‘s request to change judges because of political reasons, Earle called it—quote—“absurd.”

Still ahead, everybody, Hurricane Wilma slammed into Mexico as a Category 4 storm.  Will it be as strong if it hits the Florida coast?  We are going to tell you where it‘s going to.  That‘s coming up. 

And we also have exclusive information about the 16-year-old accused of violently murdering the wife of a famous defense attorney.  His former classmate joins me live and direct. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And hello, everybody, live—another big story that we‘re following at this hour, the wrath of Hurricane Wilma. 

As you can see, the storm is pounding the coast of Mexico, right near the resort town of Cancun. 

For the very latest on Wilma‘s track, let‘s go to NBC Weather Plus meteorologist Bill Karins.

Bill, I understand that Cancun is just taking a beating right now. 

BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST:  Worse than you can ever imagine.

Cancun is probably going to get it worse than any other location on the Yucatan Peninsula, maybe even some worse that some locations got it on our coastline for our hurricane season, if you can believe it or not. 

I will try to explain.  Category 4 storm winds, winds are still at 140 miles per hour.  But Wilma is weakening.  The problem is this.  It‘s moving north-northwest at three miles per hour.  That‘s about the speed you would walk up stairs. 

As we take a look here, this is where it‘s located.  This is the northern eyewall of the storm.  That‘s where the worst winds.  That‘s where the worst damage is going to be.  And the northern eyewall is right through Cancun.  The storm is practically stalled out right now.

And Cancun is going to go through the eyewall of a Category 4 storm for probably 12 straight hours.  Some buildings and structures could maybe make it three or four hours, because most hurricanes have a forward speed to them, like Katrina and Rita did.  But, when you get 12 straight hours of pounding surf, pounding waves, that storm surge continues to move into Cancun, a lot of the structures just aren‘t going to make it. 

And the problem we are also going to see is, they may not even be getting—get out of those hotels or those shelters until maybe Sunday.  All those people you saw the pictures of stuck there, sleeping on the floor, they are not going to be able to come out tomorrow morning, because the storm is stalled out almost right over the top of them all day on Saturday.  And it may not be until Sunday morning that a lot of people can get in there to help those people, give them relief, or maybe try to help anyone that is trapped in any structures, too—so, a lot of information here, as we go throughout the next couple days, we are not going to get it, because the power is going to be out in that area.

So, now let‘s focus on Florida, what we are concerned with here—the storm, Category 1.  It looks like it will be a weaker storm now as it hits Florida, I think, at max, probably a Category 2.  There‘s still an outside chance it could only be a tropical storm.  Let‘s hope so.

But, right now, we‘re saying Category 1, then heading towards about Naples at about 4:00 in the afternoon.  Luckily, the storm will be moving quickly at this time and it will only be over the state of Florida for about six hours.  And then we will be done with it by the time we go through Monday evening. 

But, again, Rita, the big concern tonight is Cancun, large city there, large resort town.  About half-a-million people live there.  And those people are going through a night tonight they will never forget. 

COSBY:  Certainly, that is the case.  Cancun is taking a beating.  But we have, it looks like, been spared for the most part.

Bill, thank you. 

Joining me now on the phone is NBC‘s Peter Alexander, who is right in the thick of it in Cancun. 

Peter, did you just hear?  Bill Karins said you are going to get 12 hours of pounding.  What are you experiencing now?

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Rita, I did hear what he said.  And it‘s heartbreaking to the people who are here.

We thought the storm would hit and pass last night.  But, for the last five hours, we have been hit by the eyewall.  And, as you said, it‘s not moving.  It‘s—this is not a meteorological term, but, in the best English I have, right now, Cancun is getting clobbered. 

I‘m looking out the window.  The trees are whipping in all directions. 

It is dark here. 

Everybody has been hunkered down.  And the hotel-turned-shelter that we are in, a hotel manager got up five, six, even seven hours ago and told everybody that they must go to their rooms or to hallways. 

And when they are in their rooms, he said that everyone should stay in the bathroom, ordering people to stay in the bathrooms of their hotel rooms for a total of 19 hours, through 10:00 tomorrow morning. 

Throughout the course of the day, we already saw flooding here, Rita.  And I can only imagine what‘s happening right now.  It‘s simply too dark to know and won‘t be revealed until daylight tomorrow. 

But as Bill said, even at daylight tomorrow we‘re experiencing hurricane-force winds.  This is a real pounding we‘re taking right now. 

COSBY:  And, Peter, are you expecting power outages?  How long are sort of the lasting effects?

ALEXANDER:  Well, we should make it clear, the power was turned off as a precaution yesterday.  So this city has been in the dark for more than 24 hours.  We have no power in the building in which we are.  I think there‘s a generator in some portions. 

I‘m able to speak to you somehow via cell phone, but I‘m in one corner of my room in which I can talk with you.  But we did also hear one report, Rita, by the way, about one community here that is simply flooded.  And they needed help. 

The Mexican military was trying to get there, but they said they would not be able to get inside until this storm settled.  That was several hours ago.  And it appears this thing won‘t settle for many more hours.  So those folks are in gunner straits at this time. 

COSBY:  Peter, thank you very much.  Stay safe.  Those are incredible pictures. 

And while the storm may be beating down on Mexico, as you can see, it looks like the next stop is the island of Cuba.  For the latest on conditions there, let‘s go LIVE & DIRECT to NBC‘s Mark Potter who is in Havana. 

Mark, what are the conditions like right now? 

MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, here in Havana, things are pretty calm, as you can see behind me.  But as you head west toward—and closer to Mexico in this country, the weather does get worse. 

Now, evacuations have been under way all day here, as residents here continue to monitor the storm.  They‘re watching very closely what‘s happening in Mexico, fearing that they, indeed, as you said, could be next. 

Here in Havana, civil defense officials went around to some of the homes pulling people out of substandard housing, houses that they fear could collapse if exposed to heavy rains and hurricane-force or tropical storm-force winds. 

To the west, that area closest to Mexico, the officials actually went door-to-door every house in the area telling people to get out, putting them in buses and trucks, sending them out eventually either to their relatives‘ homes, or to schools, or other government shelters. 

So far, about a half-million Cubans have been evacuated from this area, from coastal and mountain areas.  And troops have been left behind in some of those towns to guard the properties that the resident fled. 

The National Hurricane Center says the biggest problem for western Cuba is heavy rain, 10-20 inches, up to 40 inches, perhaps, in some of the mountain areas, which could lead to mudslides. 

And, again, everybody‘s eye is on the hurricane forecast now, fearing that perhaps the storm could come closer to Cuba than it is now. 

Rita, back to you. 

COSBY:  All right, Mark, please keep us posted.  Thank you. 

And let‘s bring in now a man who gotten a bird‘s-eye view of the storm from above, flying right into the heart of the storm.  LIVE & DIRECT right now from Tampa is Commander Tom Strong.  He‘s a pilot for NOAA‘s Aircraft Operations Center. 

Commander, when did you go through the storm?  And what‘d it look like? 

CMDR. TOM STRONG, NOAA HURRICANE PILOT:  We spent the entire day yesterday in the storm.  And it was pretty typical.  The eye had grown in size to about 40 miles across. 

It wasn‘t real clear yesterday.  It looks like from the presentation I‘m seeing right now that the eye has cleared up quite a bit, but the winds were very strong.  We had about 170 mile-an-hour winds at our altitude.

And you can see some of those photos there, the eye was somewhat ragged, but, man, those winds were pretty high.  The turbulence was not too bad.  We had one fairly bad hit, compared to the rest, but other than that, the storm really had its act together. 

COSBY:  How were you able to take these pictures that we‘re looking at now? 

STRONG:  Actually, one of the other guys took those.  He didn‘t have his hands full of aircraft at that time.  But normally, once we break into that eye, it‘s fairly calm.  We can actually get up, walk around, and take some photos.  There‘s about five or eight minutes when we can take a break before we have to go out the other side. 

COSBY:  What does it feel like going through the eyewall?  I would imagine that‘s difficult. 

STRONG:  Yes, it builds up slowly as you come through the eyewall.  And right up towards the inner edge, we start picking up vertical windsheer where we can climb or descend a thousand feet or more in just a few seconds.  So it‘s a lot of turbulence, I guess you‘d say, up near the very inner edge. 

COSBY:  And, Commander, how does this storm compare to other storms?  I mean, you know, right now we‘re hearing Cancun is taking a beating.  Good news is it sounds like it‘s only going to be a 1 or 2 when it hits Florida. 

But just physically looking at it, how does it compare to other hurricanes? 

STRONG:  It was very powerful in the wind category.  It wasn‘t as spread out as some of the other hurricanes this year.  It was very compact, which is good for the people on the ground.  It doesn‘t obviously affect as big an area. 

So those hurricane-force winds don‘t extend out more than—well, yesterday it was about maybe 50 miles from the center.  So that compactness is very useful to the people on the ground. 

COSBY:  Well, Commander Strong, thank you very much.  These pictures are incredible.  I‘m glad your guy had his hands free to take some of these for us.  Thank you very much. 

And, still ahead, everybody, a million dollars bail for the 16-year-old charged with killing the wife of a famous defense attorney.  Could he be guilty?  I‘ll ask a former classmate. 

And a rare interview with Stevie Wonder.  Why did he wait 10 years to do a new album?  And who‘s the new love in his life?  I‘m going to ask him.  He‘s joining us live, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAROLD JEWETT, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  Because he was very close to his 17th birthday, we believe that it‘s a situation where he is not entitled to protections afforded him under the juvenile law and it‘s appropriate to prosecute him as an adult.  And that‘s what we‘ve done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And some late-breaking details in the murder of a high-profile TV lawyer‘s wife.  Just a few hours ago, a 16-year-old was charged with the brutal crime. 

For the first time, we‘re getting a look at the actual suspect.  There he is, 16-year-old Scott Dyleski.  He was arraigned late today, and he is being held on $1 million bond. 

Joining me now live is Henry Lee with the “San Francisco Chronicle” and also former homicide investigator Rod Wheeler. 

Henry, real quick.  What happened in court just a little bit ago?

HENRY LEE, “SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”:  He made his first appearance.  None of the victims‘ friends or suspect‘s friends appeared in court.  He‘s being held on $1 million bail, as you said.  And he is being held at juvenile hall.  He will have another court appearance on Thursday on a charge of murder. 

COSBY:  You know, Rod, let‘s talk about this horrible murder that he‘s accused of.  The Gothic symbol—and as you look at the guy—if we could show a picture—this is the first time we‘ve seen.  You can tell he, you know, sort of has a dark exterior.

I heard he wore dark clothes, wore trench coat.  Friends and other people we talked to the other day said that he always dressed in black all the time.  What do you make of the gothic symbol that was carved into Pamela Vitale‘s back after this boy was accused of killing her? 

ROD WHEELER, FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C., DETECTIVE:  Well, I can tell you, Rita, that there may be some significance to the fact that he did carve this symbol in her back. 

But I‘ll tell you something else that really jumps out at me.  And I think our viewers will be surprised to hear this.  Look at the size—when you look at the picture of this suspect, look at his body size.  And then think about the victim and her size. 

The question that I have:  Is this kid able to produce the kind of injuries that she had to absorb on her body?  You know, she was struck 39 times.  And I‘m not so sure if he could do that. 

COSBY:  Rod, are you alleging that maybe somebody else played a role?  Because I agree with you.  He looks like a small guy.  But maybe, look, he took her by surprise?  We know she was—you know, was just in her underwear.

WHEELER:  That‘s right.  He maybe did take her by surprise.  But the thing is, he obviously didn‘t come to the house to murder her. 

Because from what I understand, the weapon that he used, which was a molding, Rita, he actually got it from the house.  Let me tell you.  There‘s a lot going on in this case.  There was this issue with the credit cards.  There was the issue with the marijuana.  I think there‘s a lot more questions than there are answers right now, Rita. 

COSBY:  You know, we‘re just seeing just a little—some background on him.  He only weighs 110 pounds. 

WHEELER:  Yes, he does. 

COSBY:  Henry, do we have any idea if somebody else played a role? 

Are they looking at that?  Are they excluding it? 

LEE:  There was another teenager that was involved allegedly with the suspect in the credit card scheme that these two allegedly had to try to finance a marijuana-growing operation.  That other teen, however, has not been implicated in the homicide. 

COSBY:  What do we know about his background, his family background, Henry? 

LEE:  He, for all accounts, he used to be a very average American boy until about eighth grade.  He was a baseball player.  And he also was in the Boy Scouts. 

But in December 2002, his half-sister was killed in a car crash nearby.  And we reported today—the “Chronicle” reported—that the suspect‘s father and stepmother filed for divorce on October 12th, just three days before the slaying. 

COSBY:  Rod, could this be sort of an explanation for why he flipped out? 

WHEELER:  It‘s a possibility, Rita.  I think right now the police are going to look at all of those possibilities.  But let me tell you:  They‘re definitely looking to see if maybe somebody else had had some influence on this kid‘s life to cause him to murder this woman the way that he did. 

COSBY:  Or if he was on drugs or something else.  Guys, thank you very much, guys. 

WHEELER:  Sure. 

COSBY:  And now, someone who can give us some insight into the mind of this guy, Scott Dyleski, one of his former classmates, Nick Piper joins me now live. 

Nick, I want to show you—really starting—the transformation of this kid.  We had some pictures of sort of what he looked like in 2003.  Did you see that he was sort of getting darker and darker? 

NICK PIPER, FORMER CLASSMATE OF SUSPECT:  Not really.  I only met him when he came to Acalanes freshman year.  And he kind of came the first day, like, you know, dressed with the black clothes and stuff like that.

But a couple of times I did talk to him.  And he was a pretty pleasant guy to talk to.  He was pretty nice.  And a lot of—my sister, I talked to her.  And she said that she knew him, like, a little bit better than I did.  And she said he was a really nice guy. 

COSBY:  Nice guy?

PIPER:  Yes.

COSBY:  You must be now stunned when you hear that he‘s accused of this, an atrocious crime? 

PIPER:  Yes, it was a lot bigger shock.  I mean, I really had no—I mean, I don‘t think anyone had any idea that this suspect was going to be a kid at Acalanes.  And, yes, I don‘t know.  He was a pretty nice guy. 

I mean, he definitely stuck out at Acalanes in the crowd, but, after talking to him, he seemed like a really pleasant guy who liked music, liked going to shows and stuff like that.  He was a pretty nice guy to talk to. 

COSBY:  You know, one of the things we were hearing about is that he read Satanic Bible verses at lunch?  These are folks who, you know, the last few months, saw this transformation.  Did you hear about any of that?  Or do you attribute that just to sort of typical teenage stuff? 

PIPER:  Yes, I would definitely say that‘s more toward the teenage stuff.  I mean, a lot of kids in high school do that type of stuff. 

COSBY:  But to go, you know, Nick, that we‘re hearing that there was this Gothic symbol carved in the back of Pamela Vitale.  I mean, obviously, that‘s taking it a whole bunch of steps further. 

PIPER:  Yes, definitely.  I mean, I didn‘t hear anything about reading any Gothic thing at lunch.  I didn‘t hear anything about that.  That‘s why, also, the alleged carving was a lot bigger shock than, I mean, just the murder itself, but then the carving in the back is—I mean, that‘s pretty weird.  But, I mean, yes, I mean...

COSBY:  Yes, it‘s just horrible.  Nick, how are students handling it? 

How are fellow classmates who knew this kid? 

PIPER:  They‘re absolutely shocked.  I mean, in Lafayette, there‘s been a lot of tragedies recently.  And this is just another one that‘s just blown everybody away. 

I mean, kids are just—kids have just no idea what to do.  The entire, like, district is just saying, like, “Be careful who you talk to,” and stuff like that.  And everyone is just absolutely just blown away by this. 

COSBY:  Absolutely scary.  Nick, thank you very much.  We appreciate you being with us. 

And, everybody, still ahead, we‘re going to have a rare interview with a music legend.  Stevie Wonder is going to join us LIVE & DIRECT to talk about his first album in 10 years. 

He is setting the record straight, working hard.  He‘s going to talk about his hopes of a medical miracle that could give him eye sight.  Is it true?  There‘s some reports out there.  He‘s also going to talk about the new love in his life.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, it has been 42 years since Stevie Wonder became the sunshine of our musical lives.  This former child prodigy has sold over 100 million records, had 32 chart-topping singles, won 22 Grammies, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

His other trademark has been doing social good, like 1985‘s USA for Africa, “We are the World” for famine relief.  He has accomplished all this despite being blind. 

Now, he puts an end to his 10-year absence from the recording scene, blessing us with “A Time to Love,” his first studio album in 10 years.  Take a listen. 

And now joining us LIVE & DIRECT, signed, sealed and delivered is the incredible Stevie Wonder.  Stevie, so great to have you here with us tonight. 

STEVIE WONDER, LEGENDARY MUSICIAN:  Hi, Rita, how are you? 

COSBY:  I am doing great.  How are you doing?  How are you loving this comeback? 

WONDER:  How am I loving...

COSBY:  The comeback.  I mean, how dare you make us wait 10 years for another one of your albums? 

WONDER:  How dare you not be patient?

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Well, it sounds like it was worth the wait. 

WONDER:  Well, you know, actually, you know, people ask me, like, “Why does it take so long?  Why‘d I take 10 years?”  You know, obviously I haven‘t been working on “A Time to Love” for 10 years. 

I‘ve been just doing life, I mean, living life, experiencing things.  In these last 10 years, you know, so much has happened, Rita, I mean, just in the world, period.  I mean, we‘ve had some major, major natural disasters.  We‘ve had, unfortunately, terrorism, we‘ve had wars. 

And, unfortunately, we‘ve had a time and place where people are becoming divided with their commitment to love, I mean, love meaning love for humankind, and love just for each other.  And this is what “A Time to Love” is all about. 

COSBY:  Are you frustrated, sort of, with the state of the world?  A lot of people are saying, “What is going on?  The guns, poverty.”  Do you feel like sort of things are just at a wit‘s end? 

WONDER:  I‘m never frustrated with life.  I mean, I think I always go back to what Minnie Riperton said to me.  She says, you know, “Like fine wine, I like seeing the glass of life as being half-full than half-empty.” 

So I mean, obviously, we have things that are happening.  And it isn‘t to say that my heart doesn‘t hurt about those things, but I am optimistic about the possibility of life, even if there‘s a major, major, major catastrophe where, you know, we lose lots of people, I think that, in my faith, you know, I just believe that God means for this world to get it together.

So it‘s just up to us to, you know, to pull the pendulum to the other side, to make it right.  Because I think people go from left to middle to right, to a little—you know, that sort of thing, so I just think we have to really pull our spirits in the right kind of place. 

COSBY:  Do you think music can also make a difference, change the world? 

WONDER:  I do believe that. 

COSBY:  You know, you‘ve done some neat things.  And I love what you‘re doing with this new album, Stevie.  You have this thing, it‘s for hearing-impaired people.  It includes a descriptive audio track by one of the rappers.  And I want to play and watch a few seconds and then have you talk about it.

WONDER:  OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

BUSTA RHYMES, HIP-HOP ARTIST:  All right.  Here‘s how it‘s going down.  Now, in the urban neighborhood, teens hang out on the front stoop of a three-story brownstone.  Inside, Stevie Wonder sits at a keyboard in the center of a spacious studio. 

A man grabs a bass guitar, standing four women cross in a dark room.  A shadowy guitarist joins them.  Adults of all races and ages mingle in the halls and at the party. 

Stevie leans close to a gold-tipped microphone as he plays.  The teen on the front steps turns his head sharply.  At the party, women struck by a smile and a boy in a hall listens by an air vent. 

Stevie‘s backup singers dance at their mike stands.  It‘s involved. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Now, Stevie, I understand, when you unveiled this at a media event, you had everyone wearing blindfolds.  Why‘d do you that? 

WONDER:  I wanted people to understand that, first of all, there‘s a need for blind people to understand what‘s happening in these music videos.  So it was working with the company that had done a lot of the descriptive films and movies for blind people. 

We got together with them.  And I asked Busta Rhymes to narrate the actual visuals, so that blind people would be able to actually see what‘s happening watching with their ears. 

And so I‘m hoping that, this being a first music-descriptive video is not the last one.  I hope that people will do that, all the various artists. 

Because, listen, we watch, you know, videos.  We want to know what‘s happening when we see—the girls moving around, what are they doing, you know?  I mean, we want to know what‘s happening.  And there are lots of visuals that are happening. 

You‘ve got your MTVs.  You‘ve got your VH-1s, your BETs, and the various video channels.  So I‘m just excited with the potential of all of that. 

So we did it for this one.  And we‘re hoping to have another one for the “Shelter in the Rain” video that we‘re doing now.  And the proceeds for that song are going to go to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. 

COSBY:  You‘re amazing.  You amazing, all the things you‘re doing.  Stick with us, if you could, Stevie.  We‘re going to have a lot more with you just right after the break.  Just got to take a quick commercial break, everybody.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And we are back with singing sensation Stevie Wonder. 

Steve, I‘ve got to ask you, there has been some reports in the media that you‘re looking at some microchip technology in order to try to be able to see again, see for the first time.  Are you looking at that? 

WONDER:  Well, there was a doctor a few years ago that I met with, Dr.  Mark Humayun, who had been doing with a chip.  And I did a test to see if I could possibly be a candidate for the chip, and I might be. 

But the most important thing was for me to get it out there for people to know about it.  And hopefully, there is someone for definite that would be a candidate for the chip, and they‘d be able to see.

And (INAUDIBLE) well, Stevie Wonder is doing this, and it‘s all over the place.  As long as the information gets out there for those who really will be able to have the chip without question.  Mine is sort of questionable, because of how long it‘s been. 

COSBY:  Well, you‘re a beautiful person inside and out...

WONDER:  But I‘m sure that, if I need to drive somewhere, you‘ll drive me, right? 

COSBY:  You got it, and...

WONDER:  Yes.

COSBY:  And I don‘t know if you want to see my driving.  I‘m a little crazy at the wheel.

WONDER:  Uh-oh.

COSBY:  But, as I understand, you‘re a new dad.  And before I let you go, you have to sing a little bar to my favorite song, “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”  Will you do—sing a few little verses for us?

WONDER (singing):  I just called to say, Rita, I love you.  I just called to say how much I care.  I do.  I just called to say, Rita, I love you.  And I mean it from the become of my heart.

COSBY:  Thank you so much. 

WONDER:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Stevie, I love you.  Thank you for all the blessings you‘ve been giving us. 

WONDER:  Thank you.  God bless you. 

COSBY:  Thank you so much.  And, everybody, get his new CD.  It is incredible.  Thank you so much.

WONDER:  “A Time to Love.”

COSBY:  We love you.  Thank you, it‘s “A Time to Love.”

And now, time for Joe in Alabama.

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