A woman accused of strangling an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb pleaded not guilty Thursday, and prosecutors said they are leaning toward seeking the death penalty.

Lisa Montgomery (search), 36, of Melvern, Kan., did not speak during the brief hearing before a federal magistrate, who appointed another lawyer to her defense team after U.S. Attorney Todd Graves indicated he plans to seek a death sentence.

"That is the direction we are going," Graves said.

Montgomery is charged in the December slaying of Bobbie Jo Stinnett (search), a 23-year-old who was eight-months pregnant, at her Missouri home. Stinnett's baby girl was found alive the next day with Montgomery in Kansas.

Anita Burns, Montgomery's public defender, had no comment after the hearing.