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A friend of Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia man who is charged with murdering their 22-month-old son by leaving him in a scorching car, says that she's known him for years and "he was just always a great guy."

Chris Wilkinson, a friend of Harris' from Alabama, said she met him through a mutual friend on Facebook about four years ago. He used to do web design work for her and she'd seen his interaction with his young son Cooper, who died in the back of a hot SUV on June 18.

"In the south, there’s three things we hold sacred: religion, football and family. This guy was the epitome of that," said Wilkinson. "When you know that person and you think you know their character, it’s totally baffling how this occurred."

The case, which initially appeared to be a tragic accident, took a darker turn when, at a probable cause hearing last week, detectives asserted that the father had been sexting with various women while his son was in the car.

"He was just always a great guy," said Wilkinson. "He was very prideful. He’d say, ‘Meet cooper. Isn't he great?' He was like you'd expect any father to be."

Chris WilkinsonNBC News