Transient man arraigned in July shooting death in Arnold Park

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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A transient man who allegedly shot an acquaintance to death at Vancouver’s Arnold Park in July was arraigned Monday in Clark County Superior Court.

William D. Peek, 27, entered not-guilty pleas to first-degree murder and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in the death of 25-year-old Cody O’Brien of Battle Ground.

O’Brien — whose mother said he had hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid on the brain — went missing July 17 on his 25th birthday. His body wasn’t discovered until July 26.

Peek’s trial is set to begin Nov. 13.

Major Crimes detectives were sent to the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail, which runs through Arnold Park near Northeast Arnold and St. James roads, after O’Brien’s body was found in the park lying next to a log. It appeared he had been deceased for “an extended period of time,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that O’Brien died from a gunshot wound to the chest and ruled his death a homicide. Projectiles recovered from his body matched bullets that were in a firearm reportedly stolen by O’Brien, the affidavit states.

O’Brien had been visiting his girlfriend in Gresham, Ore., before he was reported missing to the Gresham Police Department.

When he stopped using his cellphone July 17, his mother, Darla O’Brien, went through his phone records and called a number that had recently texted him. Peek answered and told her that he met with Cody O’Brien on the night of July 17 at a Vancouver park. He said they got into an altercation after O’Brien wanted to find a drug dealer to steal money from and was looking for “white stuff,” according to court documents.

Peek also visited a mutual acquaintance, Josh Guthrie, and allegedly told him he was planning on killing O’Brien and taking his car. After leaving to meet with O’Brien, Guthrie said that Peek returned about an hour later with an injury to his left eye and right knuckle. He said Peek admitted to punching O’Brien and pushing him to the ground, court records state.

An unnamed witness told detectives that Peek had talked about wanting to get “revenge” on people for allegedly jumping him. Peek reportedly told the unnamed witness that one of those people was now a missing person and that he later viewed this person’s body in a wooded area. The “dead subject had ‘bullet holes’ in him, and he was ‘bleeding out,'” the affidavit said.

Peek was arrested Aug. 3 at Steeple Chase Apartments off St. Johns Boulevard by Vancouver Police Department Major Crimes detectives with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force.