Somebody spent the weekend breaking into cars on Brookline's Fisher Hill

Brookline Police report numerous cars were broken into and rummaged through this past weekend.

Cars on Buckminster Road, Clinton Road and Leicester Street had spare change and unspecified items removed, police say.

Police add that as the investigation continues, they are urging residents to "place any valuables within your vehicle out of sight, in addition to making sure windows are rolled-up and that your vehicle is locked."

March four'easter on the way

The National Weather Service has issued a winter-storm watch that goes into effect Wednesday morning and we've got at least one local forecaster begging people not to blame to blame her for what could be up to ten inches of heavy, wet, power-line-snapping snow coming Wednesday into Thursday in what would be our fourth nor'easter of the month. So, really, what choice did the French Toast Alert panic analysts have but to up the alert - get some milk, egg and bread tomorrow.

H/t John Hanzl for the title.

Downtown medical-marijuana dispensary might be considering recreational pot sales

Patriot Care, which opened Boston's first medical dispensary at 21 Milk St., is looking for input on possible plans to add recreational marijuana offerings, even though it promised residents and city officials that's not something it wanted to do when it won approval for the dispensary in 2015.

The company, a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Columbia Care, holds an "outreach hearing" on the idea at 6 p.m. on March 28 in the Metro Meeting Center on the fourth floor of 101 Federal St. downtown.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend to hear the presentation of the applicant and those in attendance shall be permitted to ask questions related to their co-location of an adult use marijuana establishment at this location.

Patriot Caretoday declined comment, referring a reporter to the state Department of Public Health, which does not regulate recreational marijuana facilities. The state Cannabis Control Commission only recently finalized its regulations for pot shops, and says it is not taking applications from companies that already run dispensaries until April 2.

Patriot Care filed a hearing notice with the Boston City Clerk's office earlier this month; it was posted on March 14.

At the time Patriot Care was applying for city zoning permission in 2015, recreational marijuana sales were still illegal, but city officials had begun planning for possible passage of a referendum legalizing sales in the 2016 elections. Voters approved the measure, which created a commission to oversee licensing and sales.

Court overturns man's guilty verdict for carrying loaded gun on Northeastern campus

A man who went into court ready to acknowledge he was walking across the Northeastern campus with a loaded gun had his conviction dismissed because campus police didn't have enough of a reason to "seize" him in the first place and because the judge in the case failed to ask him at the start of his trial if he were really sure he wanted to admit possession of the gun.

Jesse Harris was walking across campus on Sept. 23, 2015 with two other people, one a Northeastern student, and two bicycles, when they were approached by three Northeastern police officers looking for people who'd been spotted apparently casing the bicycle rack outside Snell Library, from which several bicycles had recently been stolen, according to the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruling in the case.

The three denied stealing the bikes and said they had just come from the Popeyes in the campus food court - one showed a takeout box. When asked if they'd been in trouble before, Harris lifted a pants leg to show an ankle GPS device - worn as a condition for bail on an unspecified earlier charge. The officers asked for their IDs and used their radios to check on two of them. Harris, who did not have ID, provided his birth date and address:

As Officer Sprague was calling in the defendant's information, Officer Sweeney observed the defendant make a movement to his left side, causing his sweatshirt to ride up and expose a knife clipped inside of his waistband. Officer Sweeney, "concerned for his and other officers' safety[,] grabbed the knife handle to remove it."

Officer Cooney then told the defendant to place his hands on his head because he intended to conduct a patfrisk. The defendant began to comply, but then fled, chased by Officer Good. While fleeing, the defendant dropped the firearm that is the subject of the motion to suppress.

So, cut and dry? No, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled.

In order to detain somebody, even if for questioning, police have to have probable cause that the people have either committed a crime or are about to. The court ruled that the three became detained or "seized" at the point at which the police asked for and got their ID cards. Before that, they were free to end their conversation with police and leave. After that, they could reasonably assume they could not leave without further trouble, the court ruled.

The problem for the police officers in the case is that up until that point, they had no evidence the three were up to anything bad: They voluntarily talked to police, they showed evidence to back up their alibi - the Popeyes container - and they were nowhere near the bike rack. So there was no probable cause justifying police "seizing" them by asking for their IDs, the court ruled. And because the actions that led to Harris's arrest - the exposure of his knife, his flight, the recovery of the gun - all happened after what was an improper stop, the gun should not have been used against him at trial, the court ruled.

In this case, the police exercised coercive power to effect the stop and seizure before they observed or knew anything of the knife in the defendant's waistband. At the time they effected the stop they lacked reasonable suspicion of an existing or intended crime. The defendant and his companions accordingly should have been left to move on. The subsequent seizure of the knife, the defendant's flight, and the recovery of the gun are all fruits of the unlawful stop and should have been suppressed.

But the court continued that even if there were no problems with the evidence, they would have to toss Harris's conviction because of what happened - or rather, what did not happen - at the beginning of his trial before a judge.

Before the trial, Harris had signed a document stipulating to certain facts, among them that the gun was in his possession at the time of his arrest, that it was loaded and that he did not have a license for the gun. But the judge never asked Harris a required series of questions to ensure the document was accurate and that he had willingly signed it.

These facts constituted all the elements of the crime charged, and the stipulation was thus the equivalent of a guilty plea. A judge may not conduct a trial on such stipulated facts without first having a colloquy to establish the defendant's knowing and voluntary waiver of his constitutional rights, including rights against selfincrimination and to confront the witnesses against him. See Commonwealth v. Lewis, 399 Mass. 761, 763-764 (1987).

Here, the trial judge conducted a colloquy regarding the defendant's waiver of trial by jury, but did not conduct the required colloquy regarding the defendant's stipulation to facts that established guilt.

Developer wins approval for new residential building near Suffolk Downs; proposes two more East Boston buildings

The BPDA board last week approved construction of a 38-unit residential building on Walley Street, near Suffolk Downs, that would feature some rare four-bedroom units and a number of three-bedroom units.

Joseph Donovan's MG2 Group, LLC now has to win variances from the Board of Appeals for his proposal to replace an auto-repair garage and parking lot.

MG2, meanwhile, has filed letters of intent with the BPDA for new buildings in Jeffries Point and Central Square.

MG2 is proposing to replace a warehouse at 287 Maverick St. in Jeffries Point and replace it with a 37-unit residential building (5 designated as affordable), with ground-floor retail space and 30 parking spaces.

The developer is also proposing to tear down an auto-repair garage at 152 Liverpool St. in Central Square to put up a 23-unit apartment building (3 affordable), ground-floor retail and 9 parking spaces.