By Eric Garland - 01/10/14 08:49 AM EST
CNN's Ashleigh Banfield on Thursday said the Chris Christie aides involved in the bridge scandal could face murder charges.
Christie fired his deputy chief of staff on Thursday for her involvement in closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which was suspected to be retaliation against a New Jersey mayor who refused to endorse Christie's reelection bid.
Another associate of Christie's implicated in emails that emerged on Thursday had previously resigned from the Port Authority. Christie also asked Bill Stepien, his former campaign manager, to withdraw his name from consideration to lead the New Jersey GOP.
But the controversy is only mounting after news that the bridge's closure might have cost lives.
Pressure on Christie's camp intensified after reports surfaced Wednesday that a 91-year-old woman died from cardiac arrest en route to the hospital. Although the woman's daughter told a CNN affiliate that she didn't think the traffic played a factor in her mother's death, Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-N.J.) is lobbying for an investigation, according to CNN.
"It's a felony to do this kind of thing, if it can be proven, to shut down those lanes for no good reason," Banfield said. "Those are very strong words that you can dangle in front of someone who could be very scared and ultimately persuaded to give up testimony to a higher level."