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MURDERER MAY OFFER `BLOOD MONEY’

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He's admitted killing their mother, and now Russell Ray Thompson wants to give the three orphans "blood money."

In prison for shooting Trika Ballard to death last year, Thompson says he wants to help the smallest victims of his crime by giving them half of the money he could make if he's allowed to sell his plasma.His blood contains an extremely rare antibody for hepatitis, something that was discovered in 1991.

"I went down and donated (my plasma) for $15," Thompson said. The company, American Plasma, 600 W. North Temple, discovered the antibody and offered Thompson $2,000 a month for donating twice a week.

The idea for a trust fund came to Thompson while he was in the Salt Lake County Jail awaiting sentencing on the murder conviction. After a conversation with Ballard's sister, Trina Russom, he decided if prison officials would let him sell his plasma, he'd put half the money in a trust fund for Ballard's three children.

He mentioned his desire to the judge, who at his sentencing said she'd like to see the children get the money, if Thompson's request could be accommodated by the Department of Corrections.

Corrections officials say Thompson has made no formal request to sell his plasma and the only inquiries they've answered are from the media. But spokesman Jack Ford said they do have concerns about allowing Thompson to sell his plasma.

The first and foremost concern, prison officials say, is safety. Ford said it is unlikely they'd be willing to transport a convicted murderer to a donation center at the same time each week.

The second concern, Ford said, is the cost of transporting Thompson to and from the donation center twice a week. Thompson is in the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Utah.

Only certain plasma centers are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to handle contaminated blood, and officials aren't sure if there is anyone in central Utah licensed to do so. They also question spending taxpayer money so an inmate can earn $2,000 a month, even if he only keeps $1,000 for himself.

But Ford said the department will wait until they get a formal request from Thompson before making any final decisions.

Thompson's attorney said they're finalizing the arrangements for the trust fund and after that will try to work something out with corrections officials. Thompson believes he ought to be able to sell the plasma, even if it means he benefits.

"I've got bills from before this (the murder), and I would like to take care of all that," he said. Thompson said he has thousands of dollars in fines from his conviction, he'd also use his half of the money to pay those.

Ballard's three children are being raised by her parents. They have mixed feelings about accepting money from the man who killed their daughter.

"I don't want the money if it gets him out of prison or if it makes everybody think he's a good guy," said Bonnie Ballard. "If it benefits Russ in any way, I don't want it. People seem to be forgetting that he murdered my daughter in cold blood . . . that's what really bothers me about all of this."

Bonnie Ballard says she doesn't know if she'll accept the money if Thompson's successful. She's worried that his donation to the children will foul up the Social Security money the children are entitled to until they turn 18.

"He shouldn't get special treatment," she said. "He should be just like any other prisoner. I guess I believe they won't let him do it, so I haven't thought much about it."

But Ballard's sister hopes Thompson is able to sell his plasma.

"I think that each time he donates, he's going to think about Trika and how she died," Russom said. "His plasma can also save lives. I just feel like it would be a loss for us (if he doesn't sell the plasma)."

The money, Russom said, is his restitution to the family.

"He's trying to make amends for what's happened," she said. "He's trying to help everybody. That's all he has to offer is his bad blood."