Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, is escorted out of Cobb County Magistrate Court after he was denied bond, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga.
Kelly J. Huff— Marietta Daily Journal/AP
July 11, 2014 7:32 AM EDT

GORDO, Alabama—A long-time friend of the Georgia father who left his toddler son in a hot car to die says that the man now charged with murder was a popular guy who liked being the center of attention — but noted “I hope he gets what’s coming to him” if he did it on purpose.

Ben McRea, 33, has been close friend of Justin Ross Harris, also 33, since they were in high school together, and he was a groomsman at his wedding. The two men met when McRea was about 15 years old, after his parents moved from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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