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Ex-Clifton Pastor Convicted Of Choking Baby In Walmart Checkout Line

Oleh Zhownirovych was charged with battery after attacking a stranger's baby in a Walmart checkout line.
Oleh Zhownirovych was charged with battery after attacking a stranger's baby in a Walmart checkout line. Photo Credit: Walmart.com

CLIFTON, N.J. — A former Clifton church pastor was convicted this past week of choking a stranger’s baby in a checkout line at a Walmart in a Kansas City suburb.

Oleh Zhownirovych, who left his pastor's position at the Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral in Clifton last year, grabbed the girl, who was sitting in a shopping cart at the Overland Park store, and began choking her, authorities said.

The baby's mother's screamed, stopping Zhownirovych, who was held for police by store employees, they said.

The infant wasn't injured, authorities said, adding that they didn't know Zhownirovych's motive.

Zhownirovych pleaded no contest Thursday in Johnson County District Court. Prosecutors, in turn, dismissed another charge of aggravated kidnapping.

A "no contest" plea, also known as "nolo contendere," means "I do not wish to contend.”

Although it isn't an admission of guilt, it is treated as a criminal conviction. A judge then hands down a sentence equal to one if the convicted defendant had pleaded guilty.

The advantage is that it can't be used as evidence of guilt if a victim later sues the defendant.

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