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Clinton Martin

Clinton Martin, 40, of Villa Ridge, survived a shooting in August 2016 in which his brother and friend were killed. "I'm Superman, I guess," he said. "I was ready to accept my fate. I was ready to die." Photo by Joel Currier, jcurrier@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS • With jurors picked and lawyers ready to begin a double murder trial here, a Jennings man admitted he fatally shot two men and wounded a third at a Forest Park Southeast apartment two years ago.

The seated jurors watched Tuesday afternoon as Miquis Crumble, 21, accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder — reduced from first-degree — assault and three counts of armed criminal action.

Crumble admitted killing Huston Martin IV, 41, and his friend Cory Goodwin, 38, on Aug. 7, 2016, at Martin’s apartment in the 4200 block of Chouteau Avenue.

He also admitted to charges of shooting Martin’s brother, Clinton Martin, in the finger, mouth and chest, leaving him bleeding on a couch in the apartment for nearly 20 hours, in and out of consciousness, before he was found.

Circuit Judge Mark Neill sentenced Crumble to concurrent 30-year prison terms for the murders and a consecutive 15-year sentence for shooting Clinton Martin, who survived.

“I remember waking up, screaming, ‘Help me! Help me!’ over and over again, but no one could hear me,” he told the Post-Dispatch.

The previous night, Huston Martin talked by phone to Crumble while out at a nightclub with Goodwin and his brother, court records say.

Crumble, who had a key and sometimes stayed at Martin’s apartment, was seen on surveillance going inside about five minutes before the Martin brothers and Goodwin returned home from the nightclub, about 1:40 a.m.

The surveillance showed Crumble leave the apartment about two hours later. Charges said no one else entered or left the apartment until the victims were found several hours later.

Crumble’s last-minute guilty pleas Tuesday came after several hours of negotiations with prosecutors. His public defender declined to comment.

Crumble’s motive for murder isn’t clear, though a prosecutor said he had been in an on-and-off-again relationship with Huston Martin and that there was tension between them over a woman.

Clinton Martin, who would have testified against Crumble, said Tuesday didn’t know the reasons for the attack but believes the mother of Crumble’s child urged him to do the shooting. He said he was relieved Crumble’s guilty pleas canceled the trial and his obligation to testify against Crumble.

He still doesn’t know how he survived.

“I’m Superman, I guess,” Clinton Martin, 40, of Villa Ridge, said Tuesday. “I was ready to accept my fate. I was ready to die.”

His brother was the oldest of three siblings and worked as a probation officer and counselor for domestic abuse victims, his family said. They said he loved to travel and had compassion for parolees and those on probation.

“My son always said, ‘Dad, you just have to treat them with respect, and they’ll come around,’” his father said.

Joel Currier is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter here: @joelcurrier.