The Utah Court of Appeals has stayed a judge's order granting custody of 5-year-old girl who witnessed her mother's slaying to relatives in California.

Kamiah Marchant has been the focus of a custody battle between her parents' relatives and friends since last summer when her father, Kenneth Marchant, shot and killed her mother and a friend. Marchant afterward killed himself.On Monday, 2nd District Court Judge Michael Glas- mann had granted permanent custody of Kamiah to her mother's half-sister and husband, Teddy and Theresa Lloyd. The couple, who live in California, sued for custody in December after Misty's sister, Tammy Perea, dropped out of the battle.

A third couple, friends of Kenneth and Misty Marchant, also sued for custody.

Kamiah has been living with Paul and Angela Marchant, her father's brother and wife, since December. Glasmann ordered the couple to turn Kamiah over to the Lloyds.

But Monday afternoon, the Utah Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay at the request of Neil Crist, the Marchants' attorney.

The appellate court said it will review the petition to keep Kamiah in Utah when it receives a written copy of Glasmann's decision. Until then, the girl is to remain with the Marchants.

The appeal is expected to take from three to six months.

"The Lloyds understand the process," said their attorney Felshaw King. But, he added, "They are disappointed."

Kamiah, who began kindergarten this year, has moved twice since her parents' death. She initially lived with Perea until that family relinquished custody in December in favor of the Lloyds.

"She's resilient," Crist said. "That's the only reason she's not a basket case already."