A New Zealander accused of a prison murder in the United States faces another trial after a San Diego jury couldn't decide what he was guilty of.

Aucklander Clinton Thinn, the stepbrother of National MP Nikki Kaye, has been on trial for the alleged strangling of cellmate Lyle Woodward at a jail in San Diego in December 2016.

Thinn was behind bars for an earlier botched bank robbery.

Aucklander Thinn is the stepbrother of National MP Nikki Kaye. Photo / Facebook
Aucklander Thinn is the stepbrother of National MP Nikki Kaye. Photo / Facebook

The prosecutor was asking for a first-degree murder conviction but the jury was split three different ways, Star News reporter Neal Putnam told RNZ on Monday.

"They all thought he was guilty but they couldn't agree on what the crime was, whether it was first-degree, second-degree or voluntary manslaughter."

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"The jury was a little frustrated, they said they tried but just couldn't do it," he said.

Putnam said that the prosecutor announced straight away she was going to retry Thinn for first-degree murder, with a trial date to be set on February 28.

Thinn's lawyer argues the 29-year-old was targeted for his accent and had no choice but defend himself after Woodward attacked him prior to the incident.

A new trial date has been set for February 28 for Thinn's first-degree murder charge. Photo / Facebook
A new trial date has been set for February 28 for Thinn's first-degree murder charge. Photo / Facebook

If convicted of first-degree murder, Thinn could face up to 25 years in jail.

The former Auckland Grammar pupil was arrested in San Diego, in June 2016 after 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.

A former schoolmate said Thinn was an aspiring rapper who posted videos of himself performing online.