A man with family ties to a top government official in New Zealand, arrested last year after an attempted bank robbery in Chula Vista using a hammer and flare gun, has now been charged with murdering a fellow inmate in a San Diego jail, NBC 7 has learned.
Aspiring rapper Clinton Thinn, 29, is charged with murdering Lyle Woodward.
Deputies said the attack happened in Dec. 2016, while the two inmates were locked up at San Diego Central Jail downtown.
Woodward died days later from his injuries, prompting Sheriff’s officials to declare the death a homicide and submit the case to the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.
Thinn pleaded not guilty to first degree murder charges in court Feb. 6, a DA spokesperson said.
No details have been given as to why Thinn was in the United States.
On Wednesday, NBC 7 learned that Thinn is the step brother to Nikki Kaye, who serves as the Minister for Youth and Associate Minister of Education in New Zealand.
Her office issued the following statement:
"This is a difficult and sad time for all those affected by what has happened. As this is before the Courts, I will not be commenting any further."
According to Chula Vista police, in June 2016, Thinn entered the Bank of America on E Street and Third Avenue with a hammer and a flare gun and began to threaten employees.
He demanded money, and at one point, fired a flare toward a guard. Fortunately, none of the employees were hurt.
Thinn was arrested and booked into San Diego Central jail on several felony charges.
After the December incident, Thinn was transferred to George Bailey Detention Facility. Thinn declined an interview request when NBC7 reached out to him on Wednesday.
If convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison.