O.J. Paid for Freedom -- and Smoked Pot

08/25/2003 AT 03:38 PM EDT

O.J. Simpson says he bought his freedom. Well, not exactly, but in an interview in the current issue of Playboy magazine, the disgraced athlete and movie star says that without the copious amounts of cash needed to put together a "dream team" of lawyers, he doubts he would have been acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

The interview, obtained by Reuters and the Associated Press, comes nine years after the high-profile trial, and in it, Simpson repeatedly declares his innocence.

"I didn't commit the crime. That is why I got off," he says. "I feel in my heart that I got off because I was innocent. But I don't know if I could have proven my innocence if I didn't have the money. And that's a shame. Yes, it is a shame that in this country it costs so much to get good representation."

Simpson goes on to express sympathy for Scott Peterson, accused of killing his wife, Laci Peterson, last Christmas Eve and dumping her body in the San Francisco Bay. Simpson sees parallels between Peterson's case and his own trial -- and the way both men were treated in the media.

"Ask anyone in America about him. They'll say the guy is guilty. But we haven't heard one shred of evidence," says Simpson.

In the wide-ranging interview, Simpson also reveals that after his trial he smoked marijuana to help him fall asleep. "When I got out of jail I kind of appreciated pot more than I ever had in my life," he says. Simpson's drug of choice these days is the arthritis medication Vioxx. (He suffers from arthritis.)

Simpson was acquitted of the murders in 1994, but a civil jury later found him liable and ordered him to pay the victims' families $33.5 million.

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