Solomon Metalwala one step away from regaining custody of Sky's sister


by KING 5 News

Posted on December 5, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 5 at 6:33 PM

KENT, Wash. -- A King County Court Commissioner on Monday granted custody of Sky Metalwala's 4-year-old sister to her father, Solomon Metalwala, pending the removal of a protection order in another court.

The decision was made at a hearing in Kent, where Solomon petitioned in person for full custody of his daughter, Maile, citing Sky's disappearance.

The state had placed the 4-year-old in the care of the state Department of Social and Health Services after her mother, Julia Biryukova, reported 2-year-old Sky missing on November 6. Biryukova said she had left him alone in a car to walk to a gas station.

Metalwala and Biryukova have been fighting for custody of their children during a year-long divorce battle. At the time when Sky disappeared, Biryukova had custody of Sky and his sister.

Biryukova was not present at Monday's hearing, but her lawyer appeared on her behalf.  A court advocate and an assistant state attorney arguing for DSHS agreed with Metalwala. The commissioner granted Biryukova visitation rights, under strict guidelines. Metalwala will gain custody once a restraining order that previously kept him away from the children is vacated.

Bellevue police said Biryukova still hasn't given them a full statement about what happened the night Sky disappeared. DSHS said it was just one factor in their opinion to reverse the previous custody arrangement.

"In the custody, the wrong parent might have won, and I'm not sure based on the record I've seen, we can't establish domestic violence in the relationship. The mother has very profound mental health issues," said Tony Masco, assistant state attorney.

Metalwala's attorney will ask a judge Monday or Tuesday to drop the existing restraining order, clearing the way for Maile to be home for Christmas.

Bellevue police say they have conducted an intensive investigation and search for Sky. Over the weekend, searchers went through a Kirkland neighborhood handing out fliers.

Bellevue police have more searches planned. In the next few days a website will be launching to encourage people to leave any tips or information as well.

KING 5's Chris Daniels contributed to this report.