AUGUSTA — Michael T. Young will spend the next six years behind bars for the stabbing death of his partner, David Cox.

Even as he continued to maintain he didn’t do it, Young, 41, of Augusta, pleaded guilty today to a charge of manslaughter during an appearance in Kennebec County Superior Court.

He entered an Alford plea, a plea bargain in which a defendant essentially pleads guilty without admitting guilt.

Last week, Young had been in the same courtroom again with his defense attorney, Pamela Ames, and waived his right to a jury trial, which was set to begin the week of Dec. 17.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, urged the judge today to accept the joint sentence recommendation, saying there was risk to both sides if the case went forward to trial — particularly with testimony expected from jail inmates who might be impeached.

“Like so many other cases I could point to, half a loaf in this case is better than none,” Benson said.

Justice Michaela Murphy imposed the jointly recommended sentence of 12 years in prison, with all but six years suspended, and four years of probation.

Murphy said it appeared the victim’s family agreed to the sentence recommendation and it appears the victim’s mother believes the stabbing death was an accident.

Young had made a frantic call at 5:15 a.m. June 11, 2011, begging police and rescuers to help Cox.

“I’m holding his heart. Please save him. He’s a Mormon. He’s a good guy. He’s losing a lot of blood every second,” Young says, according to a transcript of the 911 call that was provided to Ames.

Police arrived at the Green Street apartment the men shared to find Young’s hands and shorts covered with blood. Young told them he had been ill and in bed and got up after hearing a bang and found Cox in the kitchen slumped over Young’s bicycle and with a knife in his chest.

The state medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was a stab wound to the heart.