The Connecticut man whose brutal 1983 beating of his wife led to a landmark $1.9 million lawsuit and tougher laws on domestic violence was released from prison Friday, officials said.

Charles "Buck" Thurman left the state's maximum-security prison in Somers at 12:30 a.m., a spokesman for the Department of Correction said.The early hour apparently was an attempt to avoid further publicity in the case that has had wide attention for eight years and changed the way police handle domestic complaints nationwide.

Thurman will stay at one of the state's dozens of halfway houses throughout Connecticut until Kentucky authorities decide whether they will allow him to live there with his father and stepmother, officials said.