A defense attorney for Darci Pierce, sentenced to life in prison for killing a pregnant Utah woman and delivering her baby, says Pierce's conviction and prison term will be appealed.

The appeal will go directly to the New Mexico Supreme Court, said John Bogren, the court-appointed lawyer for Pierce, 21.

District Judge Richard Traub sentenced the woman this week to life in prison on her guilty but mentally ill conviction on a first-degree murder charge. Traub also sentenced Pierce to 18 years in prison on a related kidnapping charge and 18 months on a child abuse complaint.

Pierce was convicted March 29 on all three counts in the July 23, 1987, abduction-slaying of Cindy Lynn Ray, 23, Payson, Utah.

Ray was more than eight months pregnant when she was kidnapped from a clinic at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and driven to the Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque.

Investigators said Ray was strangled and a key apparently was used to deliver her baby in a crude Caesarean section operation. The child survived the operation and is living with her father, Samuel Ray, in Utah.

Pierce, also the wife of an Air Force enlisted man, was arrested when she took the newborn infant to an Albuquerque hospital and claimed it was hers. Doctors who examined the woman said she could not have just given birth.