By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
By Jeff Balke
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Ben DuBose
Attorney-at-law Brad Kizzia is hardly able to contain himself. Punching his phone to put the caller on hold -- in mid-conversation -- he sputters excitedly to a visitor in his office: "Do you know who this is?"
"It's Mark Lane!" Kizzia blurts, unable to await a guess. "The Mark Lane."
When the name elicits only a blank stare, the stocky, rust-haired barrister twirls his executive chair around. "Over there on the bookshelf!" he exclaims, wagging an index finger at the overstuffed rows, a veritable library of such JFK-assassination classics as High Treason; JFK: Breaking the Silence and On the Trail of the Assassins -- one of the two books on which Oliver Stone based his movie, JFK. Among the many esteemed tomes: an autographed copy of Rush to Judgment, published in 1966 by, of course, Mark Lane, the dean of "assassinologists" -- and the very same man who is now dangling on interminable hold.
Lane is calling Kizzia, a 39-year-old insurance and personal-injury litigator at the conservative downtown Dallas firm of Strasburger & Price, to announce his plans to file a lawsuit. Not about an accident or malpractice claim, but because Kizzia shares Lane's passion: proving that the assassination of America's 35th president was the product of a sinister, and as yet unearthed, conspiracy.
It is no accident that this lawyer has pinned a poster-sized diagram of Dealey Plaza on the wall of his 44th-floor office -- and that his office offers a clear view of the assassination scene, including Dealey Plaza, the former Texas School Book Depository and the edge of the grassy knoll.
And it is no accident that Kizzia is at the center of the latest twisted wave of the 30-year-old controversy surrounding the martyred president: He represents conspiracy theorists who are suing other conspiracy theorists for defamation -- and who allege that the attacks upon them are part of yet another conspiracy. Jokes Kizzia: "You could call what I'm doing, 'On the Trail of the Character Assassins.' "
The assassination has inspired more than 250 books -- and at least as many theories. Dissatisfied with the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, serious researchers, buffs and assorted flakes have made their various cases for the involvement of the CIA, the FBI, Soviet intelligence agents, anti-Castro Cubans, the Mafia and extraterrestrial beings.
Kizzia himself blames the Cubans. He believes that exiles sent to overthrow Castro during the Bay of Pigs fiasco were angry at Kennedy for abandoning them -- and conspired to kill JFK to provoke a war against Cuba. "It didn't work," Kizzia explains. "Because the CIA and the FBI covered it up. I think a lot of well-intentioned people participated in the cover-up because they thought they were doing their country a service by avoiding World War III."
Though he admits he snatched up the office with the assassination vista when the opportunity presented itself, Kizzia insists, "I don't spend hours looking out the window, wondering." Likewise, he says he resists the temptation of a lunchtime stroll two blocks away to the scene of the crime
-- including the Sixth Floor exhibit, featuring more than 400 photos and an inside view of the sniper's perch. "I've only been there twice since it opened. Really.
"I'm not obsessed," he declares, before pausing to contemplate his words. "Of course, obsessed people would deny that they are obsessed."
Rhetorical characterizations aside, Kizzia is clearly part of the passion that keeps the controversy over the Kennedy assassination alive.
"I've been thinking for a long time about writing an open letter to District Attorney Vance," Kizzia announces brightly, "and asking him to reopen the investigation of the case. I know he lost the Railey case, and maybe he wouldn't want to take on something as controversial as this during re-election, but there were three murders in Dallas County: Kennedy, Officer Tippet and Oswald. Ruby was prosecuted for murdering Oswald, but there is no statute of limitations for the other murders.
"People have written books claiming they participated in conspiracies to murder the president. They either need to be exposed as frauds or they deserve to be prosecuted."
Just a third-grader when the president was shot, Brad Kizzia became "totally fascinated" by the assassination -- "as a murder mystery and as a cover-up" -- while a political science major at Austin College in Sherman. That's when he wrote a term paper on the case and invited Mark Lane -- the Mark Lane -- to speak on campus about his theory of CIA involvement.
That's also when Kizzia, who picked up Lane from the airport, recognized that not all his peers shared all his passion. "The turnout was disappointing," Kizzia remembers. "I guess not that many people at that time were as interested in the assassination as I was."
Undaunted, Kizzia grew to become an avid reader of JFK conspiracy theories. In 1991, he noticed a newspaper ad for the first annual "Assassination Symposium on Kennedy," or "ASK," being held in Dallas.
It was there that Brad Kizzia made the connections that would make him the man that unhappy conspiracy theorists call. It was there that he met Tom Wilson -- and heard about what we will call "The Second-Gunman-Detecting Machine."