10 Feb 2017

NZ prisoner accused of cellmate murder in California

From Morning Report, 7:17 am on 10 February 2017

A New Zealand who may face the death penalty in California is accused of killing his prison cellmate, it has been revealed.


Clinton Thinn Photo: Supplied / Instagram

Clinton Thinn, 29, could be sentenced to death if found guilty of the murder of Lyle Woodward, NBC San Diego reporter Omari Fleming told RNZ.

He is currently being held at George Bailey Detention Facility in San Diego, following his arrest last June over an alleged bank robbery.

Woodward was in prison on a parole violation, Mr Johnson said.

His family is considering a civil suit against the San Diego County sheriff's department for allegedly failing to adequately protect him.

Mr Thinn is the stepbrother of cabinet minister Nikki Kaye.

In a statement she said it was "a difficult and sad time" for all those affected.

Local media reports at the time of his robbery arrest said he walked into a Bank of America holding a claw hammer and a flare gun.

A charge sheet from the local sheriff's office showed that he has since been charged with murder.

Mr Fleming said Woodward was attacked on 3 December last year and died from his injuries a week later.

He had ligature marks on his neck, suggesting "possibly some kind of strangulation", Mr Fleming said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement they were aware of Mr Thinn's situation and were giving advice in relation to the robbery charges.

Mr Thinn's Facebook page says he attended the prestigious Auckland Boys Grammar School, in the upmarket suburb of Epsom, and Selwyn College, in Auckland's eastern suburbs.

A YouTube channel in his name hosts numerous videos of Mr Thinn rapping.

He travelled to the United States in May last year.

He is due to appear in court on 27 February on the robbery charges. The court date set for the murder charge is 6 March.