A former Auckland Grammar student could face the death penalty after being charged with first degree murder in the United States.

New Zealander Clinton Thinn, 29, is being held at George Bailey Detention Facility in San Diego, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department website.

He has been charged with attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a loaded firearm and first degree murder. His bail has been set at US$2 million.

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A post shared by Clinton Thinn (@clint12) on

If convicted, Thinn faces a minimum of 25 years in prison or the death penalty.

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The Aucklander, who is understood to have battled mental health problems, was arrested in San Diego, California, in June last year after an alleged bank robbery in which a man entered a Chula Vista bank brandishing a hammer and a flare gun.

The man reportedly fired two shots with the flare gun and used the hammer to try to smash a bullet-proof partition.

News reports at the time said no one was injured, but today a friend told the Herald he was "concerned" for Thinn, and that the murder charge came after a later incident at the jail he is being held in.

"Clinton needs help, he is facing the rest of his life in an American jail.

Clinton Thinn, an Auckland man who is facing a possible death sentence after being charged in California with first degree murder. Photo / via Facebook
Clinton Thinn, an Auckland man who is facing a possible death sentence after being charged in California with first degree murder. Photo / via Facebook

"How did things go wrong for Clint, an Auckland Grammar boy from Parnell and well off family?"

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is provided consular advice to Thinn.

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A post shared by Clinton Thinn (@clint12) on

‚ÄčA former schoolmate of Thinn's at Auckland Grammar, who wished to remain anonymous, said Thinn's behaviour was sometimes "pretty crazy".

"He's a bit of an odd character," he told the Herald.

The friend said Thinn was an aspiring rapper, who posted videos of himself performing online. He said he thought Thinn moved to the US to further his rap career.

"All of a sudden he just went M.I.A., and then next minute he's posting up photos in California."

Another associate of Thinn's who asked not to be named said Thinn had just broken up with his girlfriend before travelling to the US.

"That's when s*** really got bad for him."