Former NJ pastor pleads no-contest to choking 4-month-old girl at Walmart

Oleh Zhownirovych, 54, faces charges for choking a baby in a shopping cart at a Kansas Walmart. (JOHNSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A New Jersey man will be sentenced next month for choking a 4-month-old child at a Walmart in Overland Park.

Fifty-four-year-old Oleh Zhownirovych , of Clifton, New Jersey, pleaded no contest Thursday to aggravated battery and intentional harm and battery. An aggravated kidnapping charge was dropped.

In October, authorities said Zhownirovych walked up to Monquisha Hill in a checkout line and started choking her daughter, who was in the shopping cart.

He stopped when the mother started screaming. People in the store came to help and held him until police arrived.

Police said Zhownirovych appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

Hill didn’t know the man and a motive for his actions was unclear.

The baby wasn’t injured.

Zhownirovych was the pastor of a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Clifton but left the position last year.